Abstract of research Project
Activity of life essentially consists of a series of various chemical reactions and a number of biological molecules are involved in the reactions cooperatively. Understanding the biological reactions in a molecular level is one of major targets in many scientific fields, e.g., physical chemistry, biochemistry, medical science, even engineering. One of key factors in the process is "fluctuation". Biological molecules are always fluctuating by the thermal energy even during their functions. Why can such biological molecules perform selective and efficient reactions for their functions of life? Does the fluctuation play an important role for the reactions? Information on static structures of the molecules are not enough to answer that question and studies from a view point of fluctuation and reaction dynamics should be essential.
In this research area, we will create and establish a field of "fluctuation and molecular science of biological molecules" by clarifying importance of the fluctuations for biological reactions.
For this purpose, scientists in a variety of fields (physics, chemistry, pharmaceutical, medical etc.) collaborate together and elucidate the nature of the fluctuations and relationship between fluctuations and the chemical reactions that related with various biological functions. There are several elements we should develop and/or clarify: how to detect the fluctuation, how to regulate the fluctuation, and what is connection between the fluctuations and the biological functions. These are the targets of this research project. This project consists of following three research sections.
Research section A01: "Detection of fluctuation"
Main targets of this section are developing experimental techniques for detection of structural fluctuations and energy fluctuation, and also characterizing the nature of the fluctuations. In particular, detection of fluctuations of short lived intermediate species in time-domain should be important target of this section. Using these methods, we will elucidate whether or not fluctuation is really enhanced during the reaction. Developing theoretical methods to characterize the fluctuation is also a target of this section.
Research section A02: "Regulation of fluctuation"
Aims of this section are seeking new methods to produce mutants for regulating the fluctuation. By regulating fluctuation, we clarify how the fluctuation is important to the reactions. One of main targets of this section could be studies on reaction mechanisms and roles of recently discovered intrinsically denatured proteins, which should possess flexible conformations.
Research section A03: "Fluctuation toward function"
Researches of this section are mainly focused on clarifying direct relationship between fluctuations and various biological functions. The target molecules could be proteins, DNA, RNA, membranes, and so on. Theoretical and experimental studies will be carried out to explore structure formation (folding), dynamics, the function of proteins and other biomolecules.