Structural biology is the science to understand the biological
phenomena by structure analyses. Since the function of a protein
depends on its structure, analyzing three-dimensional structure
at atomic resolution is essential for answering many emerging questions
in biomedical sciences.
Our ongoing research projects include some proteins involved in
protein quality control, signal transduction and pathogenesis. These
issues have been received extensive attention as the major questions
of current biology. In addition to the major research areas, we
have established collaborative relationship with some of leading
research groups around the world.
1. Protein quality control
Protein quality control is essential for cell viability by maintaining
the proper function of proteins as well as degrading aggregates
of denatured proteins. Quality control is mediated by molecular
chaperones, convertases and many proteases which act to control
the folding, activation and degradation of proteins in the cell.
Currently we are working on proteases and small heat shock proteins
with an aim to understand the mechanism of temperature-induced activation
of the heat shock proteins.
2. Signal transduction
Transmission of the environmental signals to inside of the cell
regulates various cellular responses such as cell growth and division.
We are focusing on the structural analyses of the ligand-receptor
interaction which occurs on the plasma membrane as an initial step
of various cellular responses.
3. Structural pathogenesis
Structural pathogenesis is an area to study the developement of
a disease by providing structural explanation on the mechanism of
cellular processes associated with the disease. The pathogenesis
of the infectious disease caused by bacteria and virus are being
studied in our laboratory. Current projects deal with the quorum
sensing and type III and IV secretion systems in bacteria and Z-DNA
binding proteins of several viruses. In addition, structural proteomics
study of Helicobacter pylori, which causes probably the most common
chronic bacterial infection in stomach is on the progress. Structural
analyses of some selected proteins in H. pylori will give the clues
to understand the structural basis of this infectious diseases and
be the starting point for structure-based development of drug candidates.