JST TOP > HOME > Research Area

Research Area

Outline of Research Area

 This Research Area aims to integrate cutting-edge life science research with advanced core technologies in structural biology to create a new research field, “structural life science” which will lead to innovation in life science. It will address fundamental problems in life science by seamlessly integrating advanced methods of structural analysis and establishing general principles for elucidating and predicting the dynamics of hierarchical structures ranging from the atomic level to the cellular or tissue level.
This PRESTO covers the following research areas with a particular emphasis on proteins because of their essential roles in molecular recognitions in wide ranging biological phenomena:

  • 1) Elucidation of molecular mechanisms of biological functions or control thereof through hierarchical understanding of protein-protein interactions, interactions of proteins with other biological macromolecules such as nucleic acids or lipids, or spatiotemporal changes of higher-order structures caused by endogenous/exogenous small molecules or post-translational modifications of proteins including glycosylation, ubiquitination, phosphorylation, and methylation.
  • 2) Molecular control or design of macromolecular complexes using chemical biology or other novel methodologies.
  • 3) Development of novel technologies for structural and functional analyses with variety of spatiotemporal resolutions and physiological conditions (from in vitro to in vivo). Applications included in this endeavor are crystal structure analyses, solution scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance, electron microscopy, cell imaging, mass spectroscopy, computational science, bioinformatics, and various biophysical analyses of molecular interactions.
  • 4) Novel correlative structural analysis methods, or integrated structural biology, that correlates a number of complementary techniques in a synergistic manner to study hierarchical dynamics of biological molecules and their complexes, organelles, cells and tissues, involved in important biological functions.

 To achieve these objectives, we encourage original research proposals on challenging problems in life science by using cutting-edge structural biology approaches as well as those which aim to develop novel structural biology methodologies to address important questions in molecular cell biology, medicine, or pharmacology.

Policy on Call for Application, Selection, and Management of the Research Area

 Structural biology research is a branch of science to study complex biological mechanisms through elucidation of the three-dimensional structures of biological molecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids and their complexes. Recent progress of the structural analysis methods as well as their integration with chemical biology has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of biological phenomena. In particular, structural information of three-dimensional structures of proteins implicated in a number of diseases, food safety, and environmental science is expected to contribute to drug discovery or novel industrial applications. However, for structural biology to play an even larger role in future life science, it has to reach a higher level of integration with the relevant science areas in order to elucidate intra- or extracellular biological phenomena caused by dynamic interactions and changes in higher-order structures of biological macromolecules and their complexes. For this purpose, the integrated structural biology approach described above will be important for studying spatiotemporal dynamics of hierarchical structures that underlie biological phenomena by seamlessly integrating various analytical methods that differ in spatiotemporal resolutions and sample environments (from in vitro to in vivo). In addition, establishing a new set of general principles will be required for predicting interactions among biomolecules, especially with respect to the interaction surfaces and structural changes of individual components during the interaction. The research goals described above require genuine integration of structural biology and cutting-edge research in life science. While structural biologists must have a deep understanding of and commitment to their target areas of life science, life science researchers may obtain much higher-level knowledge by applying structural approaches to their own research areas. It is expected that the new “structural life science” based on such interdisciplinary integration will allow us to “see and understand biological phenomena at the atomic level, and apply them to address the societal needs” and lead to further innovation in life science.

 Considering the Strategic Sector −Creation of new technologies for breakthrough in understanding and predicting biological activities and intermolecular interactions by means of "Novel Structural Life Science" that contributes to new medical treatment and prevention of various diseases, food safety enhancement and environmental improvement− and the research field of 1st and 2nd Phase researchers, we will place emphasis on the following points in the selection procedure:

  • 1) Collaboration between life science research and technologies for structural and functional analyses
  • 2) Food and environment
  • 3) Integrated structural biology approach including NMR, Chemical Biology and Vibrational spectroscopy

 Although JST's PRESTO projects' main objective is to promote science of individual researchers, the Structural Life Science Research Area welcomes proposals with a clear vision and roadmap on how his/her research plan links to interdisciplinary collaboration, in view of the underlying theme of this strategic goal “structural life science,” which aims to integrate life science and structural biology. A successful research project therefore is encouraged to include an outline of the intended collaboration with a research teams of the CREST “structural life science” research area, launched at the same time, CREST “Biosystem Dynamics” directed by Prof. T. Yamamoto, and with the same strategic target, or the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology “Platform for Drug Design, Discovery, and Development,” which started in the fiscal year 2012.

 In view of the aim of integrating life science and structural biology research, this PRESTO Research Area will foster coordination and cooperation not only within the Research Area but also with other related projects by providing frequent opportunities for cross fertilization of life science research and structural biology, which, we hope, lead to new ideas and collaborative research.