directed evolution, biopolymers, enzymes, biosynthetic pathways, biosensors, device genetics, synthetic biology
Biopolymers (proteins & polynucleotides) are highly sophisticated materials useful as high-performing catalysis, sensory/regulatory components, and precisely functioning nanomaterials. On top of these superiority as materials, they share special important feature: EVOLVABILITY. Our ultimate goal is to explore the evolvability of these biomaterials to create novel and useful molecules and chemical systems that are accessible nowhere else.
Using directed evolution, we are creating novel biocatalysts that are completely new-to-nature from natural enzymes. We are also developing new technology to engrave sensory functions in enzyme, so that we can externally and dynamically modulate specification of enzymes in living cells.
Thus-created non-natural enzymes can be assembled into multi-step pathways to various useful compounds. We are creating consolidated bioprocess to numerous non-natural pigments, fragrances, polymer materials, designer biofuels, and pharmaceutical compounds.
Cell are gathering numerous molecular information and integrate them to appropriately respond to their environment. We are developing various types of protein-based biosensors and molecular switches useful for diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and dynamic control of bioprocesses. We are evolving the gathering of molecular switches into various molecular circuits that can conduct logic operation, time keeping, memorizing,.. etc.
Since its emergence, protein directed evolution has been deeply transforming the scene of biotechnology. However, it is not necessarily the best search algorithm for novel and better molecular functions. We are developing next-generation tools for accelerating & automating the evolutionary design of biological molecular systems.
B. Eng. (Kyushiu Univ., 1994); Ph.D. (Kyushiu Univ., 1998); Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept of Chem. Eng., Caltech. (1999-2003, Frances H. Arnold Lab.); Senior Research Fellow, Dept of Pathology, University of Washington (2003-2005, Lawrence A. Loeb Lab.); Associate Professor, Dept. Appl. Chem. & Biotech., Chiba Univ. (2005-2018); Professor, Dept. Appl. Chem. & Biotech., Chiba Univ. (2005-2018); Professor, Dept of Applied Chem., Waseda Univ. (2021-)