Report on the JSPS Award for Eminent Scientists FY2013

Johann Deisenhofer

1. Invited investigator:

Name: Johann Deisenhofer
University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
USA

2. Invited period:

From October 8, 2013 to October 25, 2013 (18 days)

3. Accommodation:
Host Laboratory:

Accommodation: Kyoto Brighton Hotel and others
Host Laboratory: Biological Structural Chemistry Laboratory
Department of Chemistry
Graduate School of Science
Kyoto University

4. Schedule

October 9, 2013 Arrive at Fukuoka Airport via Narita International Airport
October 10, 2013 Move to Kumamoto from Fukuoka
October 11, 2013 Visit to Kumamoto University
Visit to the President of Kumamoto University
Lecture to students and discussion
October 12, 2013 Attend to the annual meeting of the Crystallographic Society of
Japan held in Kumamoto University, Discussion with attendance
October 13, 2013 Special lecture at the annual meeting of the Crystallographic
Society of Japan
October 14, 2013 Move to Kyoto from Kumamoto
October 15, 2013 no schedule
October 16, 2013 Visit to Kyoto University, Discussion on research project
October 17, 2013 Visit to Kyoto University, Discussion on research project
Scientific seminar
October 18, 2013 Visit to Kyoto University, Discussion on research project
October 19, 2013 no schedule
October 20, 2013 no schedule
October 21, 2013 Move to Tokyo from Kyoto
October 22, 2013 Visit to University of Tokyo, Discussion on research project
Lecture to students and discussion
October 23, 2013 Visit to University of Tokyo, Discussion on research project
Scientific seminar
October 24, 2013 Visit to University of Tokyo, Discussion on research project
October 25, 2013 Leave from Narita International Airport

5. Results

1) Research Seminar

Research seminars of Dr. Deisenhofer were held three times in Kumamoto University, Kyoto University and University of Tokyo. His seminars in Kumamoto and Kyoto were entitled “Structural biology of photosynthetic light reactions” and he gave a talk from his viewpoint about contribution of protein crystallography to structural biology in the field of the primary step of photosynthesis. He was awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1988 by his research in this field. The abstract by himself is as follows: ”In this lecture I will give an overview of crystal structures of photosynthetic reaction centers (RCs) and photosystems (PS I and PS II), with emphasis on common features. The structure of the RC from the purple bacterium Rhodopseudomonas viridis (now Blastochloris viridis), a complex of 4 protein subunits and 14 co-factors, showed in its core an arrangement of chlorophylls, pheophytins and quinones with an approximate twofold symmetry (Deisenhofer et al. 1985). This structural symmetry is in contrast to functional asymmetry, with electron transfer preferentially along only one of two paths formed by chlorophylls, a pheophytin, a quinone, ending on the second quinone. A similar twofold structural symmetry exists in the cores of PS I (Jordan et al. 2001) and PS II (Zouni et al. 2001; Umena et al. 2011). While the functional asymmetry is almost complete in PS II, it is less so in PS I (Poluektov et al. 2005). The structural similarity of the cores of RC, PS I, and PS II strongly supports the assumption of a common evolutionary origin of these complexes.” His research seminar in Kumamoto was given as a special seminar at the annual meeting of the Crystallographic Society of Japan held in Kumamoto University (Conference chairperson: Prof. Akira Yoshiasa) where Dr. Deisenhofer joined this annual meeting to discuss with participants at the poster session and other sessions. On the other hand, his research seminar in University of Tokyo was entitled “Structural insights into cholesterol homeostasis” and he gave his overview on this theme including recent research results from his laboratory. His research seminars gave deep scientific impact to the audience and there were valuable discussions after his talk. The host researchers were Professor Yuriko Yamagata, Vice president of Kumamoto University and Professor Masaru Tanokura, University of Tokyo.

2) Research Discussion

Dr. Deisenhofer discussed with researchers including graduate students in Kyoto University on the topics of structural biology and protein crystallography. Discussion was done on structural studies of intermediate state in co-translational folding and crystal structure of the reaction center and light-harvesting complex. Two graduate students gave presentations on their research works. In addition, Dr. Deisenhofer discussed with researchers including other young scientists on the topics of structural biology in Kumamoto University and University of Tokyo that he visited.

3) Lecture to Students in Kumamoto University and University of Tokyo

Dr. Deisenhofer gave two fundamental lectures in English to postgraduate students of Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Science of Kumamoto University and Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences of University of Tokyo. The title of his lectures was "Structural Biology: Past, present, and future". The abstract of his lecture is as follows: ”Fifty years ago, the determination of three-dimensional structures of biological macromolecules was an exotic activity, practiced by only a few. Since then, Structural Biology has grown into a large field of research, which has influenced much of biology. This growth was made possible by developments in science and technology such as, for example, recombinant DNA methods, synchrotron radiation, high speed computers, etc. The lecture will describe some of the history and the developments with an emphasis on X-ray diffraction methods. It will also discuss likely directions structural biology may take in the near and intermediate future.” In his lectures, he showed not only historical aspects on protein crystallography but also current and future views of this technique. He also showed great contribution of protein crystallography to the field of structural biology. The students who attended his lectures seemed to be deeply impressed by his lecture.

4) Visit to the President of Kumamoto University

Dr. Deisenhofer visited the President of Kumamoto University. The President showed the history of the university and they discussed various subjects with each other.

6. Contribution to the Host University

  1. Scientists including those from other faculties of Kyoto University attended Dr. Deisenhofer’s research seminar. The audience included many young people such as postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate and undergraduate students. He showed a universal structural aspect in the structure of the protein complex working in the primary step of photosynthesis. The concept discovered by the research by which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1988 is still alive in the recently discovered structures of related photosynthetic protein complexes. His talk indicating that such a universal concept plays an important role in understanding the molecular mechanism of protein function gave deep impression to young scientists.
  2. Young researchers including postgraduate students had opportunities to discuss their research works with Dr. Deisenhofer. He gave several useful suggestions on their research problems that should be very helpful for their further research works.

7. Others

Dr. Deisenhofer joins me to express our appreciation to JSPS for very hospitable support for his visit.

<BACK>