FY2021-2025 Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas (A)
“Bottom-up creation of cell-free molecular systems: surpassing nature”


About “Bottom-up synthetic biotechnology” Area

In this Research Area, we aim to construct molecular systems which have capabilities that exceed those of natural cells, or that natural cells do not possess, from the bottom up. Outcomes of this research will have applied and social impacts, e.g., material production, drug discovery, measurement technology, environmental and energy technology, etc.

Research on the bottom-up creation of cells has progressed substantially, resulting in reconstituted molecular systems that mimic various cellular functions and properties. However, the bottom-up construction of molecular systems aimed at applied and socially relevant goals has seldomly been pursued. Moreover, there are a limited number of examples of constructing molecular systems from the bottom-up which utilize the concept of Darwinian evolution to screen for an optimal combination of multiple components among various combinations. In this Research Area, we define cell-free molecular systems as those constructed from defined molecules and materials from the bottom up, without using cells themselves as components. To construct cell-free molecular systems that can contribute to practical and applied goals, we will combine biomolecules, organic compounds, polymers, and micro- and nano-devices, while utilizing theoretical studies (Fig.). In addition, we will search for optimum combinations of components, as nature has done in the course of Darwinian evolution and elucidate the interactions among the components. In this way, we will construct molecular systems which are highly functional by virtue of evolved interactions, and simultaneously systematize the methodology to create such systems.

Greeting from the Project Leader, Tomoaki Matsuura

It is my pleasure to start and introduce our project “Bottom-up creation of cell-free molecular systems: surpassing nature”. In this Research Area, we aim to create new science by bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines including biotechnology, applied chemistry, applied physics, and theory. Please come and join us to further stimulate your research interest. (October 30, 2021)

Brief Bio
Tomoaki Matsuura is a Full Professor at Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology since Sep, 2020. He did his PhD study at Osaka University (Japan), postdoc at University of Zurich (Andreas Pluckthun Lab, Switzerland), and an Assistant and Associate Professor at Osaka University. He is interested in creating cell-free molecular systems and directed evolution of membrane proteins. Since Sep, 2021, he is the leader of the project “Bottom-up creation of cell-free molecular systems: surpassing nature” 【Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas(A)】 supported by MEXT, Japan.