Toward Elucidation of Function-Related
Structural Dynamics of Biomolecules
This Project Elucidates the Relationship between Structural Dynamics of Biomolecules (Protein and Nucleic Acid) and their Biological Functions, by Employing Novel Techniques in Structural Biology, Physics, Chemistry, & Computational Science.Overview
X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy are now indispensable tools to study the 3D-structures of biomolecules (proteins, nuclear acids, and their complexes) at atomic resolution, and through a great technological advancement in the field, a large number of biomolecular structures have been solved. However, the static structures are not enough to understand their biomolecular functions. It is of the utmost importance to get insight into their molecular dynamics, which is useful in examining the mechanisms of various diseases or in rational drug design. Thus, we need to study which aspects of dynamics are important for functions of a given biomolecule. The dynamics of the macromolecules ranges from a rapid motion (10-15 second), corresponding to a molecular vibration, to a slow motion (10-3 second), accompanying large conformational changes. To examine such wide time scale of motions, development of novel experimental techniques is also required.
In this project, we not only utilize the conventional techniques in structural biology (X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy) and the state-of-the-art techniques such as X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) and cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM), but also tackle the development of novel experimental methods, such ashigh-sensitive NMR spectroscopy. We also employ a wide range of computational methods (Simulations and Bioinformatics). Combining experiments and computations facilitates the analysis of various structural dynamics features of biomolecules in more detail and understanding of the relationship between the dynamics and the biological function. Active collaboration among structural biologists, physicists, chemists and computational scientists will help us consider problems in molecular biology from new viewpoints and offer new insights in this field.