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The Department of Macromolecular Science comprises three core laboratories and one cooperative laboratory, with each laboratory comprising several research groups. Click on a laboratory name for more details.

Macromolecular Synthesis & Reactions

Polymer Synthesis Chemistry, Polymer Reaction Chemistry

Polymer Synthesis Chemistry
Sadahito AOSHIMA (Professor), Arihiro KANAZAWA (Assistant Professor)

Recently, well-designed stimuli-responsive polymers have attracted much interest as precursors of advanced polymer materials such as nano-organized self-assemblies, intelligent hydrogels, and DDS. In particular, recent progress in living polymerization has encouraged us to design various types of block copolymers in order to examine their stimuli-induced self-association. We have prepared a variety of functional polymers with well-controlled structures and molecular weights by living cationic polymerization in the presence of an added base. On the basis of these results, we have designed a new strategy for preparing block copolymers with various types of stimuli-responsive properties such as thermosensitive physical gelation.

1. Syntheses of well-defined polymers with various characteristic properties by living cationic polymerization.
2. Syntheses of advanced stimuli-responsive block copolymers.
3. Investigation of polymerization mechanism and design of novel living polymerization.

Concept of macromolecular design and living polymerization
for syntheses of well-designed stimuli-responsive polymers

Home Page: http://www.chem.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp/lab/aoshima/e_index.html

Polymer Reaction Chemistry
Kiyotaka ONITSUKA (Professor), Taka-aki OKAMURA (Associate Professor),
Naoya KANBAYASHI (Assistant Professor)

Our research involves the development of new polymer synthesis and functionalization incorporating a characteristic feature of metal elements. For example, precise design of new transition metal complexes and investigation of their reactivity lead to the development of new polymerization catalysts. Functionalization of polymers based on the control of molecular structure is investigated by using the methodology of organic synthesis. Our research interest is also focused on metalloenzyme. Model complexes of active sites and non-natural peptide are designed and structurally characterized.

1. Development of new organometallic polymerization catalysts and their application to synthesis of functional polymers
2. Functional macromolecular complexes composed of organometallic units
3. Investigation of the reactivity controlling mechanism in the active center of metalloenzyme using model complexes having simple ligands and/or short peptides.
4. Synthesis of non-natural amino acid polymers for higher order structure formation and expression of novel functions.
5. Sequence and function analyses of proteins and protein complexes using novel metal complex sequencing reagents.

Home Page: http://www.chem.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp/lab/onitsuka/e

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Macromolecular Structure, Properties, and Functions

Polymer Physical Chemistry, Macromolecular Precise Science
Supramolecular Science, Polymer Functional Chemistry

Polymer Physical Chemistry
Tadashi INOUE (Professor), Osamu URAKAWA (Lecturer),
Takuya KATASHIMA (Assisant Professor)

1. Shear induced structures of soft matters.
2. Nonlinear rheology and rheo-optics of polymer solids.
3. Molecular motions of hyper-branched polymers.
4. Structure and molecular motions of supramolecules.
5. Hydration and molecular motions of water-soluble polymers
6. Structure and dynamics of polymer composites.

Soft matter stands for soft materials including polymers, liquid crystals, suspensions, and self-assembling molecules which form a large mesoscopic structure much larger than atoms. Soft matters are “soft” and therefore they can easily respond to external fields like strain fields, flow fields, electric fields and so on, and sometimes show drastic structural changes. We have been studying their unique physicochemical properties, particularly nonlinear responses under strong external fields, in addition to their fruitful equilibrium properties and dynamics. Our research is focused on molecular interpretation of rheological phenomena of polymers and micelles as a model system of soft matter.

Home Page: http://www.chem.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp/lab/inoue/index_Eng.html

Macromolecular Precise Science
Akihito HASHIDZUME (Professor), Yuri KAMON (Assistant Professor)

Macromolecular substances are ubiquitous, and these substances enrich our lives. Our bodies are also composed of macromolecules, e.g., nucleic acids and proteins. To unravel the reasons behind why life has chosen macromolecules as essential building blocks, and to elucidate the crucial roles that macromolecules play in our life, we devote our efforts to understand the nature of macromolecules, i.e., macromolecularity. We also aim at the creation of high-performance macromolecules based on macromolecularity. We are carrying out three projects as follows:

(1) We synthesize precise macromolecules with well-defined chemical structures because these precise macromolecules are critical for deeper understanding of macromolecularity.
(2) We strive to understand macromolecularity utilizing the precise macromolecules.
(3) We challenge existing boundaries to creation of high-performance macromolecules comparative to biological macromolecules using the precise macromolecules.

Home Page: http://www.chem.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp/lab/hashidzume/index_eng.html

Supramolecular Science, Polymer Functional Chemistry
Hiroyasu YAMAGUCHI (Professor)

In biological systems, life process is led by the unique behavior of macromolecules such as proteins and DNA. Molecular recognition by macromolecules plays an important role, for example, in substrate specificity of enzymes and antigen-antibody reactions in human life. Selective molecular recognition among macromolecules is achieved through a large number of weak interactions. We have focused our attention on the special behavior of antibodies, especially monoclonal antibodies, because they can recognize a larger and more complicated compound with high specificity than that can synthetic host molecules or enzymes.
In this laboratory, we develop novel materials through hybridization of bio-related macromolecules such as monoclonal antibodies with artificial/synthetic small molecules. We construct functionalized catalytic and energy conversion systems based on specific molecular recognition of biomacromolecules and selective assembly of bio/synthetic molecules.

Home Page: http://www.chem.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp/lab/yamaguchi/english/

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Macromolecular Assemblies

Macromolecular Structure, Polymer Assemblies

Macromolecular Structure
Katsumi IMADA (Professor), Fumitoshi KANEKO (Associate Professor),
Tatsuya KAWAGUCHI (Assistant Professor)

Biological process is driven by complex molecular machines composed of biological macromolecules. The flagellum, which is an organelle for bacterial motility, is one of those molecular machines. The flagellum is a huge protein assembly composed of a helical filamentous screw, a molecular universal joint, a highly efficient ion-driven motor and a protein export apparatus for self-construction. The Laboratory of Macromolecular Structure aims to proved fundamental understanding of operating principles and the self-assembly mechanism of biological macromolecular machines, such as the bacterial flagellum, through the studies of molecular structure at atomic resolution and reconstitution of the molecular machines. We also study structures of polymer complexes with low molecular weight compounds and the relationship between their structures and functions.

1.Rotational mechanism of the bacterial flagellar motor.
2. Self-assembly mechanism of the bacterial flagellar motor.
3. Structural and functional studies on bacterial protein secretion systems.
4. Structural and functional studies on environmental sensing units of bacteria.
5. Study on the structure of polymer complex with small molecule and its formation mechanism.

The flagellar type III export apparatus and F/V-type ATPases share a common architecture.

Home Page: http://www.chem.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp/lab/imada/en/

Polymer Assemblies
Takahiro SATO (Professor), Ken TERAO (Associate Professor)

Polymers often form aggregates in solution and polymer aggregates play important roles in industries of foods, cosmetics, paints, and pharmaceutics, as well as in living cells where proteins and nucleic acids associate and dissociate during biochemical reactions. Polymer aggregates, or polymer assemblies, usually take very complex conformations and their characterization is not easy. Our group aims at understanding the structures and properties of polymer assemblies through the following projects.
1. Syntheses of novel associating polymers with strong attractive interactions, like amphiphilic polyelectrolytes, random copolymers bearing carboxyl and amide (or amino) groups, etc.
2. Establishment of methods for characterizing polymer conformation in aggregates, self-associating structure, and interaction among polymer aggregates, by using light scattering, fluorescence, NMR, size-exclusion chromatography, viscosity, ultracentrifuge, and so on.
3. Interpretation of various properties of associating polymer solutions, like viscosity, liquid crystallinity, circular dichroism, reaction kinetics, and interaction with functional molecules, in terms of self-associating structure and intermolecular or inter-aggregate interaction.

Home Page: http://www.chem.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp/lab/sato/index-e.html

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Informative Polymer Science (Institute for Protein Research)

Protein Physical Chemistry, Protein Crystallography, Supramolecular Crystallography

Protein Physical Chemistry
Yuji GOTO (Professor), Young-Ho LEE (Lecurer),
Masatomo SO (Assistant Professor)

1. Observation of folding processes and clarification of the mechanism of protein folding.
2. Analysis of structural stability and dynamics of protein molecules.
3. Analysis of structural stability and the mechanism of formation of amyloid fibrils.

Protein folding is a process in which an extended polypeptide chain acquires a unique folded conformation with biological activity. However, the exact molecular mechanism remains unknown. Clarifying the mechanism of protein folding is essential to improve our understanding of the structure and function of proteins. It is also important to design engineered proteins with improved functions.

Moreover, protein folding plays important roles in many biological phenomena. For an example, the deposition of amyloid fibrils has been suggested to play a central role in over 20 degenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and prion diseases. Because the amyloid fibril deposition is often caused by misfolding of an originally functional protein, these diseases are called “folding disease”. In order to establish therapeutic treatments, clarifying the molecular mechanism of folding diseases is essential.

We are studying the conformational stability of proteins, molecular basis of folding reaction, and structures and formation of amyloid fibrils. These studies are performed by using various physicochemical methods (NMR, CD, IR, calorimetry, ultracentrifugation and single molecule observation with fluorescence microscopy) with recombinant proteins expressed by using E.coli and yeast.

An image of amyloid fibrils of amyloid-β peptide obtained
using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy.

Home Page: http://www.protein.osaka-u.ac.jp/physical/index.html

Protein Crystallography
Genji KURISU (Professor), Hideaki TANAKA (Associate Professor)

1. Structural studies of photosynthetic energy-transducing membrane protein complex and related redox enzymes
2. Crystal structure analyses of dynein motor
3. High resolution structural analysis of rat liver vault

Three-dimensional protein structure brings us a deeper insight into the biological function. X-ray crystallography is the best method to determine atomic coordinates of protein molecules. The main aim of our group is the X-ray structure determination of the biological macromolecular assemblies including membrane protein complexes, in order to elucidate the molecular mechanism of the highly organized biological processes at atomic level.

Crystal Structure of the dynein motor domain

Home Page: http://www.protein.osaka-u.ac.jp/crystallography/EngHP/

Supramolecular Crystallography
Atsushi NAKAGAWA (Professor), Mamoru SUZUKI (Associate Professor),
Eiki YAMASHITA (Associate Professor)

1. Operating a synchrotron beamline for biological macromolecular assemblies at SPring-8.
2. Developing a new crystallographic techniques for structure determination of biological macromolecular assemblies.
3. Structural studies of biological macromolecules and biological macromolecular assemblies.
4. Structural studies on proteins working in brain and nervous system.

Macromolecule assemblies, consisting of proteins, nucleic acids, and other substances, play key roles in all living system. Our laboratory works on structure determination of biological macromolecular assemblies using X-ray diffraction technique. Development of tools for X-ray crystallography of biological macromolecular assemblies, including the synchrotron radiation beamline at SPring-8, is also one of our main works.

Home Page: http://www.protein.osaka-u.ac.jp/rcsfp/supracryst/index.html

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Department for the Administration of Safety and Hygiene

Chemistry for Environment and Safety
Hitoshi YAMAMOTO (Professor)

1. Development of low barrier ion conductive polymer electrolytes.
2. Development of the photo-switching functional molecules.
3. Development of detection methods for environmental chemicals.
4. Construction of education system for realization of safety concious culture in the university.
5. Research and analyses of university accidents in the world.
This laboratory belongs to the department for the administration of safety and hygiene, whose mission is managing safety and hygiene of all people constituting the university. The research in this laboratory aims to contribute to the safety of wide area in science and technology. At present, our research projects focus on development of new functional molecules such as low barrier ion conductive polymers for the safety of Li ion batteries, photo-switchable hydrogen bonds for environmental chemistry, etc. In addition, our laboratory proposes safe methods and techniques for conducting research and experiments through investigation and analyses of university accidents in the world.

Home Page: http://www.osaka-u.ac.jp/jp/facilities/anzen/kankyou/index.html

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Institute for Advanced Co-Creation Studies

Yoshinori TAKASHIMA (Professor)

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