Awards & Prizes

DATE2022.04.13 #Awards & Prizes

Assistant Professor Wataru Shihoya received the Young Scientists' Prize of the Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

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Assistant Professor Wataru Shihoya

Assistant Professor Wataru Shihoya of the Department of Biological Sciences has received the 2022 Young Scientist Award from the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for his research on the structure and function of signal transduction molecules across the cell membrane.

A system for transmitting information into the cell is essential for the maintenance of life, and various membrane receptors on the cell membrane are responsible for this system. By utilizing membrane receptors, which are the command centers of signal transduction, drug discovery and manipulation of life phenomena become possible.

Assistant Professor Shihoya has elucidated the structure and function of these membrane receptors using X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. Assistant Professor Shihoya has determined the structures of the eight states of the endothelin receptor type B, which is involved in blood pressure regulation, and has elucidated how endogenous ligands activate the receptor and how the pulmonary arterial hypertension drug bosentan inhibits the receptor. The results of this research have been highly acclaimed worldwide for their promotion of structure-based endothelin receptor drug discovery. Assistant Professor Shihoya further clarified that Mirabegron, a drug for overactive bladder, can recognize and selectively bind to the narrow pocket of the β3-adrenergic receptor. This research result was highly acclaimed worldwide as it revealed the last type of pharmacologically important β-adrenergic receptor whose structure had not yet been elucidated. Assistant Professor Shihoya has also elucidated the steric structure of a new type of light-accepting microbial rhodopsin that acts as an enzyme and has a reversed orientation toward the membrane, expanding the diversity of rhodopsins.

Major publications:
Activation mechanism of endothelin ETB receptor by endothelin-1," Nature, p363-368, September 2016
Crystal structure of heliorhodopsin, " Nature, p132-136, published September 2019

Website of the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award for MEXT WA4

(Responsibility: Professor Osamu Nureki, Department of Biological Sciences)