The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Campus Now > NEWS REPORT : Midsummer Issue (Jul.)

Campus Now

Midsummer Issue (Jul.)


Contributing to society through science and technology

"Waseda Research" produces steady results

Contributing to development of industrial manufacturing method for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics
Discovery of synthesizing enzyme cis-4-hydroxy-L-proline

Professor Kuniki Kino (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and Associate Researcher Ryotaro Hara (Research Institute for Science and Engineering) have discovered a new enzyme which is effective in the synthesis of cis-4-hydroxy-L-proline, an amino acid derivative. The two researchers conducted joint research with Kyowa Hakko Bio Co., Ltd. and contributed to the development of a revolutionary new industrial manufacturing method.

Cis-4-hydroxy-L-proline is a kind of amino acid which is hydroxylated in the 4-position of L-proline. The stereoisomer trans-4-hydroxy-L-proline has been used for a broad range of applications since an efficient fermentation production method was established by Kyowa Hakko Bio in 1997. However, cis-4-hydroxy-L-proline could only be manufactured through a complex chemical synthetic procedure, thus resulting in limited usage due to the high costs involved. The new method enables steady supply of highly pure cis-4-hydroxy-L-proline at a low cost. In the future, it is expected that the method will spread as way to make raw materials for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Contributing to clarification of molecular mechanism of chromosomal division which is linked to cancer and congenital illness
Discovery that MCAK is a molecular motor that emits tensile force

A research group led by Professor Shinichi Ishiwata (Faculty of Science and Engineering) has discovered that the microtubule depolymerizing factor MCAK, known for its involvement in chromosomal division, is a molecular motor that emits tensile force.

Until now, prevailing theory stated that structural change in microtubules was the source of power required to divide a pair of duplicated chromosomes into two. The mechanism of chromosomal division which takes place when abnormalities occur and which is linked to cancer and congenital illness is a theme which has been continually investigated by many researchers for more than half a century.

MCAK possess qualities which enable it to act as a molecular motor and pull chromosomes. It is expected that this discovery will help to clarify the properties of protein molecules which are involved in cell division and will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the control mechanisms for chromosomal division.

Briefing for reporters