Structural Life Science

Outline of Research and Education

Various proteins in the cell are involved in a variety of fundamental biological phenomena. To understand living organisms, it is crucial to know how these proteins function in the cell. Unfortunately, most molecular mechanisms of proteins are still unclear. Our laboratory studies various proteins and, In particular, we are focusing on how proteins, small molecules, and ions are transported across membranes. This transportation is mediated by dedicated membrane proteins including transporters, channels, and translocases (Fig. 1, 2). Some of these membrane proteins can be drug targets. Our laboratory conducts fundamental research by structural biological analyses in combination with newly developed methods.

The first step of our typical strategy is to elucidate the protein structure at the atomic and amino acid levels (Fig. 3). When we obtain detailed structural information of target proteins, it provides much insight into how these proteins function. This is the greatest advantage of uncovering the details of protein structure. The next step is to reveal proposed molecular mechanisms based on protein’s structural information by performing functional analyses. Recently, we are also attempting to visualize protein dynamics by single-molecule analyses. Thus, we utilize several methods for our research. In short, it can be said that our studies will be those "published in textbooks".

Major Research Topics

  1. Transportation across cell membranes
  2. Molecular function and dynamics of proteins
  3. X-ray crystallography


  1. Furukawa A. et al., Structure 26, 485–489, 2018
  2. Tanaka Y., Iwaki S., and Tsukazaki T. Structure 25, 1455-1460, 2017
  3. Furukawa A., Yoshikaie K. et al., Cell Rep., 19, 895-901, 2017
  4. Tanaka Y., Sugano Y. et al., Cell Rep., 13, 1561-1568, 2015
  5. Kumazaki K., Chiba S., Takemoto M., Furukawa A. et al., Nature, 509, 516-520, 2014
  6. Tanaka Y. et al., Nature, 496, 247-251, 2013
  7. Tsukazaki T. et al., Nature, 474, 235-238, 2011
  8. Higuchi T., Hattori M., Tanaka Y., et al., Proteins, 76, 768-771, 2009
  9. Tsukazaki T. et al., Nature, 455, 988-911, 2008
  10. Hattori M., Tanaka Y. et al., Nature, 448, 1072-1075, 2007
Fig.1 Conserved protein translocation across the membrane via translocon.
Fig.2 Membrane transporters
Fig.3 Outline of our research
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