Keiichi Inoue


Keiichi Inoue

Winner in 2019 | 21st Winner

The Institute for Solid State Physics, the University of Tokyo


Discovery and functional analysis of novel retinal proteinsThe Institute for Solid State Physics


Abstract When Prize Awarded

Microbial rhodopsin is photoreceptive membrane protein family in unicellular microbes. In the 20th, microbial rhodopsins are considered to present in finite species such as hyperhalophilic archaea. However, recent genomic and environmental metagenomic analyses identified more than thousands of microbial rhodopsins from diverse microorganisms to use sun-light energy for various biological events.

We studied the molecular functional mechanism of various types of microbial rhodopsins with time-resolved laser spectroscopy [1]. We also found many rhodopsin genes have highly different amino-acid sequences compared with reported ones. As the results, light-driven outward Na+

pump [2-4] and inward H+ pump [5] rhodopsins were newly identified, and their transport mechanism was also revealed. In 2018, a new distinct class of rhodopsin was discovered by functional metagenomics, and it was named heliorhodopsin (HeR) meaning “the rhodopsin of the sun” in Greek [6,7]. HeR has an orientation in membrane in which N- and C-termini face cytoplasmic and extracellular side. This is opposed to all classical rhodopsins. The variety of rhodopsin proteins is expected to increase, and new many insights about the essence of protein functionality will be obtained by studying them.

[1] K. Inoue* et al., J. Phys. Chem. B 115, 4500-4508
[2] K. Inoue et al., Nature Commun. 4, 1789 (2013)
[3] H. E. Kato, K. Inoue et al., Nature 521, 48-53 (2015)
[4] K. Inoue et al., Nature Commun. 10, 1993 (2019)
[5] K. Inoue et al., Nature Commun. 7, 13415 (2016)
[6] A. Pushkarev, K. Inoue et al., Nature 558, 595-599 (2018) : equally contributed
[7] W. Shihoya, K. Inoue et al., Nature 574, in press (2019)