Mechanistic Organic Chemistry

Toward the Efficient Biosynthesis of Natural Products

Introduction of Research

Biosynthesis of Natural Products

Plants and microorganisms produce numerous biologically active organic compounds, so called “natural products”, that are used as medicines, pesticides, and fragrances. However, many of them are scarce in nature. In addition, there are concerns about resource depletion. Therefore, the potential application of these compounds is often limited and an alternative way for better production is desired. In our laboratory, we explore the genes for biosynthesis of natural products and introduce them into other microorganisms such as Aspergillus oryzae (known as koji mold in Japan). Production of natural products employing genome information and genetically tractable organism is an efficient strategy that allows sustainable supply of useful compounds.

Mechanistic Studies on the Biosynthetic Enzymes

Natural products are synthesized by the chemical reaction catalyzed by enzymes in the cells. Enzymatic reactions proceed under mild conditions such as room temperature and atmospheric pressure and does not produce by-products. So, they are considered as an efficient synthetic method with low environmental impacts. With the aim of understanding and application of such enzymatic reactions, we focus on mechanistic and structural analysis of biosynthetic enzymes of complex natural products.

Strategies for Biosynthesis of Natural Products
Extraction of Natural Products from Aspergillus oryzae

Introduction of laboratory

In our laboratory, most of the undergraduates go on to CSE and continue their research. Most of graduate students are from Hokkaido University, but we also accept students from other universities and overseas. Since faculty members with different academic backgrounds collaborate to support research activities, a wide range of knowledge such as organic chemistry and genetic engineering can be acquired through research activities. We also encourage presentations at international and domestic conferences so that students can discuss their research content with other researchers. Many graduates are active in industrries and academia.