The UGA codon, which normally acts as a stop codon, is translated by a special mechanism into the 21st amino acid, selenocysteine. Proteins with selenocysteine are collectively called selenoproteins, widely exist from microorganisms to humans, and play important roles for living organisms. How is UGA translated? We will solve the mystery of the interesting mechanism and work on the unique function of selenoproteins. Furthermore, we aim to construct a high-production system for industrially useful selenoproteins.
II. Development of useful compounds production system using unique metabolic pathways of microorganisms
① Development of biofactor production system using sulfur/selenium supplying enzyme
Compounds such as sulfur- and selenium-containing molecules, vitamins, and other biomolecules are essential biofactors for our health and other organisms, and have high utility value as functional foods, food additives and pharmaceuticals that have antioxidant effects. In this theme, we will conduct research aiming at the development of sulfur and selenium-supplying enzyme groups that can control sulfur and selenium and their application to biofactor production.
②Development of useful chiral compounds production system using novel lysine metabolism enzyme
Optically active amino acids, amines, alcohols and carboxylic acids are very important as synthetic intermediates for various pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals. In this study, we focus on the unique lysine-metabolizing enzyme of bacteria and molds, and aim to optimize the reaction efficiency by analyzing the detailed reaction mechanism and apply it to the production process of useful chiral compounds.
III. Microbial metal metabolism and metalloprotein studies
By analyzing the special and excellent metal-metabolizing ability inherent in microorganisms and improving it by making full use of genetic engineering and protein engineering, we will conduct research aiming at application to purification of metal contamination and recovery of rare metals. We will also develop new metalloproteins that can be used for these purposes.
IV. Study on production efficiency of agricultural products using microorganisms
There are so many kinds of microorganisms that we can't imagine that human beings have ever used them. There are still many kinds of unique and unique metabolites of microorganisms, enzymes and proteins produced by microorganisms that have physiological activities that we do not expect. We would like to contribute to the sustainable development of society by elucidating their structures and functions and applying them to various fields.
Above all, food and the environment are the themes that are currently becoming a global issue. We note that there is room for micro-organisms to cultivate agricultural products with low environmental impact, to ensure safe and high-quality production, and to revitalize the economy of agriculture. In this project, we aim to improve the production of agricultural products by developing next-generation breeding/cultivation/control technologies that utilize microorganisms. The ultimate goal is to achieve a more stable food supply.