Picobiology : Life Science at the atomic level

Picobiology: Life Science at the atomic level" was selected in 2007 as one of the 13 programs in the field, "Life Science

Educational Research Framework

Academic Fields Covered by this Research Center
Cellular Biology Research Research such as the elucidation of the mechanism of brain nervous system formation, the mechanism of the control of replication of chromosome, the mechanism of regulation of fat drop function, the mechanism of formation of membrane protein structure, dynamics of microtubules, and single molecular analysis of protein motor.
Structural Biology Research Research such as crystallization of energy converting complex of respiratory system, ultrahigh-resolution X-ray crystal structural analysis of various functional proteins such as cytochrome c oxidase and hydrogenase, and picometer level structural analysis by vibrational spectroscopic method are the main ones, and based on the picometer level structural analysis, the reaction mechanisms of the proteins will be analyzed by the organic reaction chemical, synthetic chemical, and theoretical analyses. Further, surface-active agents for membrane protein crystallization and site-specific isotope labeling method will be developed.
Foundations of Picobiology Research
The structure of functional groups of the cofactor with visible absorption can be analyzed with resonance Raman spectrometry and infrared spectroscopy is essential for the structural analysis of amino acid residues. Then, with the previous research center plan (the 21st century COE program), ultrahigh-sensitive infrared spectroscopic system with possible application to proteins in aqueous solution was developed and brought the system essentially to perfection. In addition to this, at the end of last year, the world largest resonance Raman spectrometric system possible to measure cofactors with any absorption band from near ultraviolet to near infrared (system including 20 lasers and 8 Raman spectrometers maintained by Okazaki General Bioscience Center into which a total amount of 450 million yen was pumped) was moved to our research department and the research center was established, where the world largest scale and highest-performance vibrational spectroscopic system can be used to study biological molecules. Also, this research center is located easily accessible to SPring-8, the world highest-performance Synchrotoron radiotion system, and has an exclusive possession of beam lines. Further, this research base is located in the vicinity of a free electronic laser facility presently under construction at Harima Science Institute and a next generation supercomputer will be placed in Kobe. Consequently, structural biology research foundations better than this cannot be found anywhere in the world. ピコバイオロジーの研究基盤
To further promote the research in the field of structure biology central to picobiology, a picobiology institute consisting of the following 5 departments will be established:
[1] Department of protein crystal growth mechanism research
[2] Department of protein structural analysis research
[3] Department of site-specific isotope labeling research
[4] Department of vibrational spectroscopy research
[5] Department of theoretical analyses
Cooperation between cell biology and structure biology
Since cellular biology research and structural biology research for picobiology research are greatly different in technique, the research is usually carried out by different groups. Nonetheless, these researches are to be carried out in parallel, bringing out the problems reciprocally. Also, when carrying out the research at whole body and cellular levels, the fact that all physiological processes are comprised of chemical reactions, each driven by proteins should not be neglected and high-resolution structural analysis research should also be aimed at clarifying the function of proteins in the living cell. Therefore, for the promotion of picobiology, cooperation between “structure biology researchers who understand cell biology” and “cell biology researchers who understand structure biology” is essential. 細胞生物学と構造生物学の連携
Researcher training and research activity
Cooperating under the common recognition of the above-mentioned research basis and the statement “all physiological processes are comprised of chemical reactions, each driven by proteins”, the assignment mentioned in the subsection “Academic Fields Covered by the Research Base” will be promoted. Most of the assignment is a world leading assignment that has been promoted by the 21st COE program and the assignment will also be strongly promoted at our research center. It is impossible to train researchers who can promote world-class research without letting them involved subjectively in world-class research. Consequently, to support world leading research is the most important way to train researchers. This basic idea is inherited from the 21st COE program. Both “structure biology researchers who understand cell biology” and “cell biology researchers who understand structure biology” are indispensable for promoting picobiology. Thus, in order to train these researchers, at our research center, many specific measures will be established, and instituted to incorporate into curriculum. Further, to be helpful in training these researchers, the various gates will be opened in order to let sharing of the various viewpoints of different stages of Picobiology research from cell biology to structure biology promoted by our research center. By these activities, it is expected that cooperation between the research groups and research activity will also be promoted. 人材育成と研究活動
Necessity of this research center establishment plan
Application of infrared spectrometry to proteins active in aqueous solution was impossible since water has a strong infrared absorption. Because of this, the analysis of protein function was mainly centered on X-ray structure information thus far. Therefore, the chemical reactivities of amino acid residues in proteins have been speculated upon as a result of X-ray structures. Since the characteristic function of proteins is determined by functional groups making up the functional center, the structural analysis at picometer level by infrared system developed at our research center is a research that could pursue the nature of life phenomenon and could bring remarkable progress to structural biology. From this, Japan would be evaluated as a world academic leader in structural biology for the first time. It should be stressed that picobiology research “which is to understand life phenomenon as a chemical reaction driven by proteins” can be leadingly promoted by our research base having both a good accomplishment in X-ray structure analysis and ultra high-sensitive infrared spectrometry system. 拠点形成計画の必要性