Faculty and research guide

Laboratory of Biotechnology

Enoch Y. Park, Tatsuya Kato, Takatsugu Miyazaki

1. [Using a silkworm as a bioreactor! Insect biotechnology can produce high-order proteins of human origin]
In the era following the mapping of the human genome, the direction of research is shifting from looking at genes to looking at proteins. Although many genes have been identified in the process of genome mapping, but many of these proteins functions coded by the genes still remain unclear. Consequently, this laboratory uses insect cells, and particularly living organisms (like silkworms), as little factories to produce proteins like those found in human beings. Silkworms have been raised by people for a long time, and people have enjoyed the gift of the silk fiber that they create. Insect cells as a host produces highly-modified proteins similar in quality compared to mammalian cells. This laboratory developed the first ever bacmid system, whereby foreign genes can be introduced quickly into silkworms. Our specific subjects of study are as follows:
(1) Using silkworm as bioreactors
(2) Producing glycoproteins using silkworms; studying the efficiency of secretion, the function of chaperones, and improving productivity by molecularly altering glycoproteins
(3) Producing functional nanoparticles from silkworms

2. [A bio-refinery for waste biomass]
As the human population increases, various problems are jeopardizing the survival of the human race, such as new diseases, depletion of resources, food shortages, and environmental problems. Biotechnology already plays an important part in mankind's struggle to meet the broad range of needs for food, clothing, shelter, and a livable environment, and further great success can be expected from this field. Fortunately, since there are enormous amounts of untapped biomass on earth, research in this field centers on bio-refinery technology and on recycling this huge resource or converting it into valuable resources. Therefore, this laboratory is conducting the following studies:
(1) Waste vegetable oil – Developing broad application technologies to exploit this renewable carbon resource: Making diesel fuel by converting waste vegetable oil into biodiesel; Research into producing Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) from waste vegetable oil using the microorganism Ashbya gossypii and into improving productivity by developing a metabolic engineering technique
(2) Conversion of biomass into sugars using cellulase, and the bio-refinery technology for biomass conversion to reducing sugar.
(3) Cellulase catalyzed-saccharification of waste lignocellulose and conversion to value-added bioproducts.

Producing riboflavin using Ashbya gossypii microorganisms
Riboflavin was accumulated in mycelia of Ashbya gossypii.

Direct injection of bacmid DNA into a silkworm(Does not create a biohazard)

Silkworms expressing GFP (green fluorescent protein)