In April 2001, RIKEN established the RIKEN Structural Genomics/Proteomics Initiative (RSGI), a collaborative research organization made up of RIKENs Yokohama Institute, including the Protein Research Group, and the RIKEN Harima Institute at SPring-8. The RSGI initiated structural and functional studies of proteins encoded by the genomes of various organisms and of medically/biologically important proteins from higher eukaryotes. The RSGI was integrated into the National Project on Protein Structural and Functional Analyses (NPPSFA or Protein 3000), which was organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) as one center of the program for comprehensive studies, and which commenced in April, 2002.
To carry out the work of this program, the RSGI conducts structural/functional analyses using 40 high-performance NMR machines, the largest number in the world, which are located at the Genomic Sciences Center (GSC). NMR is crucial because it allows the elucidation of protein structural data in an aqueous environment which resembles the inside of a living cell. Incorporation of this large-scale NMR facility into the research pipeline is a significant strength and allows the RSGI to conduct a variety of high-quality and high-throughput experiments.
In addition to NMR, RIKEN also carries out X-ray Crystallography, another widely employed technique for protein structure analysis, which uses high energy X-rays (synchrotron radiation) to analyze protein crystal structure. Crystal structure analysis is conducted at SPring-8, a large synchrotron radiation facility in Harima. Here, protein crystals are subjected to high intensity X-rays which interact with the atoms in the crystal to produce a diffraction image which contains information about the location of electrons in the protein. The X-ray diffraction data collected is then used to elucidate the 3D structure of the crystallized proteins. High-resolution structures of multi-protein complexes can also be determined at SPring-8. Once protein structural and functional information is obtained by these and other methods, it is stored in databases which are used to predict protein structures/functions from genomic information and to elucidate the relationship between individual proteins, which is known as the protein functional network.
Using technological strengths such as these, we successfully constructed a systematic pipeline for protein research through which a large number of protein structures/functions have been elucidated with extremely high accuracy. We intend to continue in our quest to establish a next generation research model that sets the highest standards. We strongly believe this will serve as a strong support base for industrial development, which will translate into improved quality of life for society.
Go to RSGI Page.