Faculty and research guide

Laboratory of Biochemistry

Hirokazu Kawagishi, Hirofumi Hirai, Takeomi Murata, Jae-Hoon Choi, Toshio Mori

We are investigating the following subjects using organic chemical, biochemical and molecular biological techniques.
1) Discovery of compounds that regulate life phenomena
2) Food safety
3) Development of functional food
4) Development of new medicine
5) Resolution of global environmental problems

○ Hirokazu Kawagishi , Jae-Hoon Choi
We focus chiefly on mushrooms, and we are doing bioorganic chemical and biochemical research to understand the bio-active compounds contained in mushrooms.
1) Bioorganic chemical research on bioactive compounds produced by mushrooms
2) Biochemical research on lectin produced by mushrooms
3) Chemical clarification of mushroom-related natural phenomena
4) Searching for compounds that control the life cycle of mushrooms (from spores to mycelia, from mycelia to fruiting bodies (so-called mushrooms), from fruiting bodies to spores)
5) Chemical studies on purine metabolic pathway in plant and fungi

○ Takeomi Murata
'Sugar chain' in which two or more monosaccharides are linked exists a lot in organisms. These sugar chains are involved in various vital phenomena, such as controlling immune cells, accelerating growth in cancer, mediating the spread of infections and quality control of glycoprotein. We want to develop new sugar chain materials that will have an inhibitory effect on infections of influenza virus and destructive intestinal fungi and to affect the regulatory functions of immune cells. Thus, we are doing research on the enzyme synthesis of various sugar chain molecules and on the synthesis of artificial glycoconjugates that combine sugar chains into proteins and peptides.

○ Hirofumi Hirai, Toshio Mori
Lignin is a heterogeneous, random, phenylpropanoid polymer that constitutes 20-30% of woody plant cell walls. White-rot basidiomycetous fungi are the only microorganisms that are capable of degrading lignin extensively to CO2 and H2O. Lignin biodegradation by white-rot fungi have been studied intensively in recent years. Furthermore, white-rot fungi were also studied due to its abilities to biodegrade a wide spectrum of persistent environmental pollutants. Our group is advancing the biochemical and molecular biological analyses of the lignin biodegradation mechanism and the degradation mechanism of environmental pollutants by a hyper lignin-degrading fungus Phanerochaete sordida YK-624.
Moreover, we are investigating on the application of white-rot fungi to woody biorefinery since white-rot fungi possess various fermentation ability.
We are also advancing molecular breeding of organisms (microorganisms and plants) which have been enhanced by adding the ability of degradation of lignin and environmental pollutants. In addition, we are also trying to elucidate symbiotic mechanisms on wood decay between white-rot fungi and bacteria.

Figure 1: A bio-active control substance is produced by Hericium erinaceum (A). Novel purine metabolic pathway has been discovered in plants (B)

Biochemistry, writing by T. Mckee and JR. Mckee.
ISBN13: 9780195305753

Photo 1: EGFP fluorescent imaging of co-transformant from P. sordida YK-624. Left: wild type, right: co-transformant. This transformation system is effective for molecular breeding of superior lignin-degrading fungus.