Materials Structure Science Program, SOKENDAI

Life science

Our group promotes research in the field of life science using synchrotron radiation, for which we have developed state-of-the-art beamlines and experimental devices. We have expanded our research to link biopolymers to cells and tissues using X-ray crystal structural analysis, small-angle X-ray scattering, X-ray imaging, and X-ray cell irradiation.

In addition to the research by the program staff, our school promotes interuniversity research as one of the interuniversity research institutes. We also conduct research in cooperation with industry, academia, and the government in the fields of pharmacy, nutrition, and the environment, to name a few.

Life Science group leader, Toshiya Senda

Main research projects

Elucidation of functions and mechanisms of nuclear proteins in eukaryotes

We are studying the intranuclear reactions in a cell, such as transcription and replication from a chromatin template, using the spatial structures of biopolymers such as proteins, DNA, and RNA. In particular, with a focus on the relationship between epigenetic information and intranuclear reactions, we are studying how the functions of individual molecules integrate to yield complex functions.

fig01.pngMechanism that disassembles a particular part of a nucleosome in a chromosome to activate a gene.

Elucidation of the causes of diseases determined from the structures of proteins related to infectious and other diseases

We are studying the causes of infection and diseases by studying the spatial structures of molecules (molecular complex) related to infectious and other diseases, and we aim to establish the foundation for the discovery of drugs to fight these diseases.

Mechanism that disrupts the intracellular signals by the protein CagA in Helicobacter pylori (left),
and the crystal structure of CagA (right).

Elucidation of the mechanisms of enzyme reactions

We are studying the spatial structures of intermediate enzymes to elucidate the relationship between the spatial structures and the functions of enzymes that help chemical reactions in a living body.

Entire structure of the PCB decomposition enzyme BphC (left), and the structure of the active center (right).

Elucidation of the mechanism of intracellular and extracellular signaling and substance transportation

We are studying the structure of biopolymers (biopolymer complex) to elucidate the mechanisms of intracellular and extracellular signaling and substance transportation.

fig06.png Schematic diagram of intracellular transportation (by Professor Yoshimori at Osaka University).

Elucidation of the mechanism of biological effects of radiation

We are studying the effects of radiation on cells, from the molecular level to the tissue level, by using the variable energy of synchrotron radiation and microbeams obtained from high-luminance light.

fig07.png The nuclei of human cells (red) irradiated with a 5-μm beam (in the frame on the right), and damaged DNA parts (green).

Development of a synchrotron radiation X-ray imaging system that can be applied to medical science

To obtain knowledge from imaging data about a living body and various diseases, we are developing an imaging system that utilizes the characteristics of synchrotron radiation, and conducting research into its application.

fig08.png Phase image (a) and absorption image (b) of a slice of the cerebellum of a rat.

Development of advanced methods and devices for synchrotron radiation research in life science

We are upgrading to new analysis methods and beamlines, and developing multifaceted analysis methods by combining multiple methods. We will provide these methods for joint usage.

fig09.png Device for protein crystal structural analysis; it includes a large-area detector, a highly accurate axis of rotation, and a crystal exchange robot.


Name Position Field
SENDA, Toshiya Professor Structural biology
IGARASHI, Noriyuki ProfessorStructural biology
SHIMIZU, Nobutaka ProfessorStructural biology
HYODO, Kazuyuki Professor (KEK) Medical imaging
KATO, Ryuichi Assoc. Professor Structural biology
KAWASAKI, Masato Assoc. ProfessorStructural biology
MATSUGAKI, Naohiro Assoc. Professor Structural biology
USAMI, Noriko Assoc. Professor Radiation biology
YAMADA, Yusuke Assistant ProfessorStructural biology
HIKITA, Masahide Assistant ProfessorStructural biology
TAKAGI, Hideaki Assistant ProfessorSAXS, Polymer Science

Beamlines in charge

Macromolecular crystallography

BL-1A, BL-5A, BL-17A, NE-3A, NW-12A

Small-angle X-ray scattering of muscle and alloys

BL-6A, BL-10C, BL-15A2

X-ray imaging and multi-purpose experiments

BL-14C, (NE-5A), NE-7A

Radiation biology, soft X-ray photoelectron spectorscopy

BL-27A, BL-27B


Structural Biology Research Center

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