Chitin, the second most abundant polysaccharide in nature, occurs in fungi, some algae and many invertebrates, including insects. Thus, chitin synthesis and degradation could represent specific targets for fungicides and insecticides. Chitinases hydrolyze chitin into oligomers of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine at key points in the life cycles of organisms, consequently, chitinase inhibitors have become subject of increasing interest. This review covers the development of two chitinase inhibitors of natural origin, Argifin and Argadin, isolated from the cultured broth of microorganisms in our laboratory. In particular, the practical total synthesis of these natural products, the synthesis of lead compounds via computer-aided rational molecular design, and discovery methods that generate only highly-active compounds using a kinetic target(chitinase)-guided synthesis approach (termed in situ click chemistry) are described.
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is an effective method for the physical mapping of genes and repetitive DNA sequences on chromosomes. Physical mapping of unique nucleotide sequences on specific rice chromosome regions was performed using a combination of chromosome identification and highly sensitive FISH. Increases in the detection sensitivity of smaller DNA sequences and improvements in spatial resolution have ushered in a new phase in FISH technology. Thus, it is now possible to perform in situ hybridization on somatic chromosomes, pachytene chromosomes, and even on extended DNA fibers (EDFs). Pachytene-FISH allows the integration of genetic linkage maps and quantitative chromosome maps. Visualization methods using FISH can reveal the spatial organization of the centromere, heterochromatin/euchromatin, and the terminal structures of rice chromosomes. Furthermore, EDF-FISH and the DNA combing technique can resolve a spatial distance of 1 kb between adjacent DNA sequences, and the detection of even a 300-bp target is now feasible. The copy numbers of various repetitive sequences and the sizes of various DNA molecules were quantitatively measured using the molecular combing technique. This review describes the significance of these advances in molecular cytology in rice and discusses future applications in plant studies using visualization techniques.
Molecular biology of mouse and chicken retroviruses had identified oncogenes and provided a revolutionary concept in understanding of cancers. A human retrovirus was established during 1980–1982 in linkage with a unique human leukemia, concurrently in Japan and USA. This review covers our efforts on the discovery of new retrovirus, Human T-cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1), first introducing to a new class of retroviruses with a unique regulatory factors, Tax and Rex. Then it is followed by analyses of molecular interaction of the vial Tax with cellular machineries involved in the pathogenesis of Adult T-cell Leukemia (ATL). And then a probable mechanism of pathogenesis of ATL is proposed including recent findings on HBZ after our efforts.
Although obesity is a major background of life style-related diseases such as diabetes mellitus, lipid disorder, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, the extent of whole body fat accumulation does not necessarily the determinant for the occurrence of these diseases. We developed the method for body fat analysis using CT scan and established the concept of visceral fat obesity, in other word metabolic syndrome in which intra-abdominal visceral fat accumulation has an important role in the development of diabetes, lipid disorder, hypertension and atherosclerosis. In order to clarify the mechanism that visceral fat accumulation causes metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, we have analyzed gene expression profile in subcutaneous adipose tissue and visceral adipose tissue. From the analysis, we found that adipose tissue, especially visceral adipose tissue expressed abundantly the genes encoding bioactive substances such as cytokines, growth factors and complements. In addition to known bioactive substances, we found a novel collagen-like protein which we named adiponectin. Adiponectin is present in plasma at a very high concentration and is inversely associated with visceral fat accumulation. Adiponectin has anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive and anti-atherogenic properties and recent studies revealed that this protein has an anti-inflammatory and anti-oncogenic function. Therefore hypoadiponectinemia induced by visceral fat accumulation should become a strong risk factor for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and also some kinds of cancers. In this review article, I would like to discuss the mechanism of life style-related diseases by focusing on the dysregulation of adiponectin related to obesity, especially visceral obesity.