Intensive research on the construction of superconducting quantum computers has produced numerous important achievements. The quantum bit (qubit), based on the Josephson junction, is at the heart of this research. This macroscopic system has the ability to control quantum coherence. This article reviews the current state of quantum computing as well as its history, and discusses its future. Although progress has been rapid, the field remains beset with unsolved issues, and there are still many new research opportunities open to physicists and engineers.
Some of my work of the last 50 years in the field of theoretical particle physics is described with particular emphasis on the motivation, the process of investigation, relationship to the work of others, and its impact. My judgment is unavoidably subjective, although I do present the comments of other researchers as much as possible.
Neutrino oscillation was discovered through studies of neutrinos produced by cosmic-ray interactions in the atmosphere. These neutrinos are called atmospheric neutrinos. They are produced as decay products in hadronic showers resulting from collisions of cosmic rays with nuclei in the atmosphere. Electron-neutrinos and muon-neutrinos are produced mainly by the decay chain of charged pions to muons to electrons. Atmospheric neutrino experiments observed zenith-angle and energy dependent deficit of muon-neutrino events. Neutrino oscillations between muon-neutrinos and tau-neutrinos explain these data well. Neutrino oscillations imply that neutrinos have small but non-zero masses. The small neutrino masses have profound implications to our understanding of elementary particle physics and the Universe. This article discusses the experimental discovery of neutrino oscillations.
Chemistry-based investigation is reviewed which led to identification of the active entities responsible for the immunostimulating potencies of peptidoglycan and lipopolysaccharide. Though these glycoconjugates which ubiquitously occur in wide range of bacteria as the essential components of their cell envelopes have long been known to enhance the immunological responses of higher animals, neither the precise chemical structures required nor the mechanism of their action remained to be elucidated until early 1970s. Chemical synthesis of partial structures of peptidoglycan proved N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanyl-D-isoglutamine to be the minimum structure responsible for the activity and led to later identification of its receptor protein Nod2 present in animal cells. Another active partial structure of peptidoglycan, γ-D-glutamyl-meso-diaminopimelic acid, and its receptor Nod1 were also identified as well. With regard to lipopolysaccharide, its glycolipid part named lipid A was purified and the structure studied. Chemically synthesized lipid A according to the newly elucidated structure exhibited full activity described for lipopolysaccharide known as endotoxin. Synthetic homogeneous lipid A and its structural analogues and labeled derivatives enabled precise studies of their interaction with receptor proteins and the mechanism of their action. Chemical synthesis of homogeneous partial structures of peptidoglycan and lipopolysaccharide gave unequivocal evidences for the concept that definite small molecular parts of these complex macromolecular bacterial glycoconjugates are specifically recognized by their respective receptors and trigger our defense system now widely recognized as innate immunity.
This article is a short comprehensive review describing in vitro polyester synthesis catalyzed by a hydrolysis enzyme of lipase, most of which has been developed for these two decades. Polyesters are prepared by repeated ester bond-formation reactions; they include two major modes, ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of cyclic monomers such as cyclic esters (lactones) and condensation polymerization via the reaction between a carboxylic acid or its ester group and an alcohol group. Polyester synthesis is, therefore, a reaction in reverse way of in vivo lipase catalysis of ester bond-cleavage with hydrolysis. The lipase-catalyzed polymerizations show very high chemo-, regio-, and enantio-selectivities and involve various advantageous characteristics. Lipase is robust and compatible with other chemical catalysts, which allows novel chemoenzymatic processes. New syntheses of a variety of functional polyesters and a plausible reaction mechanism of lipase catalysis are mentioned. The polymerization characteristics are of green nature currently demanded for sustainable society, and hence, desirable for conducting ‘green polymer chemistry’.
Throughout my research life, I experienced to discover the causes of some neurological diseases in Japan. 1) SMON (subacute myelo-optico-neuropathy). Since the early 1960s, a peculiar neurological disease became prevalent throughout Japan. Through the chemical analysis of the green urine, characteristic of this disease, it was found that this disease was caused by intoxication of the administered clioquinol, an anti-diarrheal drug. This discovery is a big topic in the history of Japanese medicine. 2) In early 1970s, I experienced many young patients with oedema and polyneuropathy in Kagoshima. Finally it was found that the disease was the long-forgotten beriberi, which had disappeared several decades ago. We must always be aware of beriberi even now, as far as we eat well-polished rice. 3) In 1972, we noticed a group of sporadic paraparesis in Kagoshima, which was 20 years later confirmed to be induced by human T lymphotropic virus type-I (HTLV-I). We named this disease as “HTLV-I associated myelopathy” (HAM). It gave a strong impact that the causative virus of adult T cell leukemia (ATL) can induce entirely different diseases, in terms of both the clinical course and the pathological features. It was also proven that HAM was identical with tropical spastic paraparesis, (TSP), which had been prevalent in many areas of tropical zones. These experiences are good examples of our slogan “to keep in mind to send message of scientific progress from the local area to the international stage”.
Herein, I describe pyridylamination for versatile analysis of sugar chains. The reducing ends of the sugar chains are tagged with 2-aminopyridine and the resultant chemically stable fluorescent derivatives are used for structural/functional analysis. Pyridylamination is an effective “operating system” for increasing sensitivity and simplifying the analytical procedures including mass spectrometry and NMR. Excellent separation of isomers is achieved by reversed-phase HPLC. However, separation is further improved by two-dimensional HPLC, which involves a combination of reversed-phase HPLC and size-fractionation HPLC. Moreover, a two-dimensional HPLC map is also useful for structural analysis. I describe a simple procedure for preparing homogeneous pyridylamino sugar chains that is less laborious than existing techniques and can be used for functional analysis (e.g., sugar-protein interaction). This novel approach was applied and some of the results are described: i) a glucosyl-serine type sugar chain found in blood coagulation factors; ii) discovery of endo-β-mannosidase (EC 220.127.116.11) and a new type plant α1,2-L-fucosidase; and iii) novel substrate specificity of a cytosolic α-mannosidase. Moreover, using homogeneous sugar chains of a size similar to in vivo substrates we were able to analyze interactions between sugar chains and proteins such as enzymes and lectins in detail. Interestingly, our studies reveal that some enzymes recognize a wider region of the substrate than anticipated.
We have demonstrated that in rats activities of various enzymes related to gluconeogenesis and amino acid metabolism show circadian rhythms. Based on these results, we have explored the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian oscillation and phase response to light of the master clock located in the dorsomedial subdivision of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and found various proteins closely related to phase response such as BIT/SHPS-1 and those of circadian oscillation, some of which are involved in protein-tyrosine phosphorylation. On the other hand, we have presented several lines of evidence that the ventrolateral subdivision of the SCN includes not only the control center of energy supply to the brain, but also that of homeostasis such as blood glucose, blood pressure, water balance, and body temperature. We have also shown that besides these functions, the latter subdivision is involved in the regulations of hormone secretions such as insulin, glucagon, corticosterone and vasopressin. It has been also shown by electrophysiological means that light exposure to rat eye enhances sympathetic nerve activity, whereas it depresses parasympathetic nerve activity. Thus, environmental light is implicated not only in the phase-shift through the retinohypthalamic tract (RHT), but also control of autonomic nerve activities through the RHT, It is also discussed in this review how the two divisions are interconnected and how environmental light is involved in this interconnection.
Midkine is a heparin-binding cytokine or a growth factor with a molecular weight of 13 kDa. Midkine binds to oversulfated structures in heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. The midkine receptor is a molecular complex containing proteoglycans. Midkine promotes migration, survival and other activities of target cells. Midkine has about 50% sequence identity with pleiotrophin. Mice deficient in both factors exhibit severe abnormalities including female infertility. In adults, midkine is expressed in damaged tissues and involved in the reparative process. It is also involved in inflammatory reactions by promoting the migration of leukocytes, induction of chemokines and suppression of regulatory T cells. Midkine is expressed in a variety of malignant tumors and promotes their growth and invasion. Midkine appears to be helpful for the treatment of injuries in the heart, brain, spinal cord and retina. Midkine inhibitors are expected to be effective in the treatment of malignancies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, renal diseases, restenosis, hypertension and adhesion after surgery.
The transport and sorting of lipids are fundamental to membrane biogenesis. In the synthesis of sphingolipids in mammalian cells, ceramide is newly produced at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and transported from the ER to the trans Golgi regions, where it is converted to sphingomyelin. Ceramide transfer protein (CERT) mediates the ER-to-Golgi trafficking of ceramide. It has been suggested that CERT extracts ceramide from the ER and carries it to the Golgi apparatus in a non-vesicular manner and that efficient CERT-mediated trafficking of ceramide occurs at membrane contact sites between the ER and the Golgi apparatus.
The adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS), especially that of adult humans, is a representative example of organs that do not regenerate. However, increasing interest has focused on the development of innovative therapeutic methods that aim to regenerate damaged CNS tissue by taking advantage of recent advances in stem cell and neuroscience research. In fact, the recapitulation of normal neural development has become a vital strategy for CNS regeneration. Normal CNS development is initiated by the induction of stem cells in the CNS, i.e., neural stem cells (NSCs). Thus, the introduction or mobilization of NSCs could be expected to lead to CNS regeneration by recapitulating normal CNS development, in terms of the activation of the endogenous regenerative capacity and cell transplantation therapy. Here, the recent progress in basic stem cell biology, including the author’s own studies, on the prospective identification of NSCs, the elucidation of the mechanisms of ontogenic changes in the differentiation potential of NSCs, the induction of neural fate and NSCs from pluripotent stem cells, and their therapeutic applications are summarized. These lines of research will, hopefully, contribute to a basic understanding of the nature of NSCs, which should in turn lead to feasible strategies for the development of ideal “stem cell therapies” for the treatment of damaged brain and spinal cord tissue.
We report, as the result of shelf-life tests for Esaki diodes, the observation of minute but tangible reductions in the tunnel current after the lapse of half a century. The reduction could be attributed to 0.25% widening in the tunnel path.