Various cells and molecules are interactive for their functions in a body. Even at the single cell level, various molecules such as protein, nucleic acid, and sugar interact with each other. To understand biomolecules accurately, it is important to observe their behaviors and functions in a state where the interactions with other biomolecules are preserved, that is, in a living state. In our laboratory, we are developing new functional molecules through the rational design based on organic synthesis, supramolecular chemistry, and protein engineering. The developed molecules are applied to visualization and optical control of biomolecular dynamics and functions: particularly, fluorescent probes that can selectively detect enzyme activities and intracellular signal transduction; caged compounds or photochromic compounds for optically controlling activities of enzymes, receptors, and other functional proteins. By combining these functional molecules with fluorescence microscopy, we approach the essence of the biomolecular functions and the unresolved mechanisms of diseases. Such life science studies based on chemistry is called chemical biology, and it is characterized by applicability of original compounds for the specific purpose.
Ongoing research theme
1) Visualization of biomolecular dynamics in cells [ Bioimaging ]
2) Light manipulation of intracellular and in vivo molecular functions
[ Photopharmacology, Optochemical biology ]
3) Elucidation of protein function and development of new functional proteins
[ Bioinorganic chemistry, Protein engineering ]