Natural sterols often occur as a heterogeneous mixture of homologs, which had disturbed the progress of steroid research. Development and application of GC methodology overcame this difficulty and enabled us to obtain detailed sterol profiles. Together, fine synthesis of stereo-defined isomers and homologs of steroids having oxygenated side chains allowed us to compare them with natural samples as well as to investigate structure-activity relationship. Advance of HPLC technology also facilitated the determination of the stereochemical structure of naturally occurring steroidal compounds, which were obtained only in minute amounts. This review highlights three topics out of our steroid research that have been performed mainly at Tokyo Institute of Technology around 1970–1990. These are sterol metabolism in insects focusing on the mechanism of the conversion of plant sterols to cholesterol and ecdysone biosynthesis, the synthesis and biochemical research of active forms of vitamin D3 derivatives, and the synthesis and microanalysis of plant hormone brassinosteroids.
The author focuses on the biological significance of ω-oxidation of fatty acids. Early studies revealed that there is a subsidiary pathway for β-oxidation of fatty acids when β-oxidation is blocked. Many studies demonstrated that the ω-oxidation serves to provide succinyl-CoA for the citric acid cycle and for gluconeogenesis under conditions of starvation and diabetes. Acylglucosylceramides which are composed of linoleic acid, long chain ω-hydroxy fatty acids, eicosasphingenine (or trihydroxyeicosasphingenine) and glucose, are responsible for normal epidermal permeability function in the skin. It is observed that ω- and (ω-1)-oxidation of fatty acids are related to energy metabolism in some laboratory animals such as musk shrews and Mongolian gerbils. Studies confirmed that ω- and (ω-1)-oxidation of fatty acids play crucial roles in the production of insect pheromones of honeybees and in the formation of biopolyesters of higher plants. In addition, the biological significance of ω-oxidation of prostaglandins and leukotrienes is described.
Taal Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines. The magnetotelluric 3D forward analyses indicate the existence of a large high resistivity anomaly (∼100 Ω·m) with a volume of at least 3 km × 3 km × 3 km, which is capped by a conductive layer (∼10 Ω·m), beneath the Main Crater. This high resistivity anomaly is hypothesized to be a large hydrothermal reservoir, consisting of the aggregate of interconnected cracks in rigid and dense host rocks, which are filled with hydrothermal fluids coming from a magma batch below the reservoir. The hydrothermal fluids are considered partly in gas phase and liquid phase. The presence of such a large hydrothermal reservoir and the stagnant magma below may have influences on the volcano’s activity. Two possibilities are presented. First, the 30 January 1911 explosion event was a magmatic hydrothermal eruption rather than a base-surge associated with a phreato-magmatic eruption. Second, the earlier proposed four eruption series may be better interpreted by two cycles, each consisting of series of summit and flank eruptions.