Structural biology is the science to understand the biological phenomena by structure analyses. Since the function of a protein depends on its structure, analyzing three-dimensional structure at atomic resolution is essential for answering many emerging questions in biomedical sciences.

Our ongoing research projects include some proteins involved in protein quality control, signal transduction and pathogenesis. These issues have been received extensive attention as the major questions of current biology. In addition to the major research areas, we have established collaborative relationship with some of leading research groups around the world.

1. Protein quality control
Protein quality control is essential for cell viability by maintaining the proper function of proteins as well as degrading aggregates of denatured proteins. Quality control is mediated by molecular chaperones, convertases and many proteases which act to control the folding, activation and degradation of proteins in the cell. Currently we are working on proteases and small heat shock proteins with an aim to understand the mechanism of temperature-induced activation of the heat shock proteins.

2. Signal transduction
Transmission of the environmental signals to inside of the cell regulates various cellular responses such as cell growth and division. We are focusing on the structural analyses of the ligand-receptor interaction which occurs on the plasma membrane as an initial step of various cellular responses.

3. Structural pathogenesis
Structural pathogenesis is an area to study the developement of a disease by providing structural explanation on the mechanism of cellular processes associated with the disease. The pathogenesis of the infectious disease caused by bacteria and virus are being studied in our laboratory. Current projects deal with the quorum sensing and type III and IV secretion systems in bacteria and Z-DNA binding proteins of several viruses. In addition, structural proteomics study of Helicobacter pylori, which causes probably the most common chronic bacterial infection in stomach is on the progress. Structural analyses of some selected proteins in H. pylori will give the clues to understand the structural basis of this infectious diseases and be the starting point for structure-based development of drug candidates.