Yuta Kudo

Name of university
Tohoku University
Frontier Research Institute For Interdisciplinary Sciences
Assistant Professor
Life and Environments

Research Fields

Natural products chemistry, Organic chemistry, Chemical Biology

Research Keywords

New Natural Products
Natural Toxins

Research Subject

Study on the secondary metabolism based on the identification of novel natural compounds -biosynthesis of neurotoxin tetrodotoxin and identification of bacterial signaling molecules-

Research Outline

Organisms have a pathway called secondary metabolism in addition to the essential primary metabolism. Each organism has evolved secondary metabolism to produce the natural compounds with specific activities for a survival strategy. Some natural products are harmful as natural toxins cause food poisoning. On the other hand, natural product is an excellent source of life-saving drug-lead compounds, as about half of the pharmaceuticals are derived from them. Understanding, controlling, and utilizing the secondary metabolism that produces various natural compounds are essential tasks. In addition, natural compounds often have chemical structures beyond our imagination; therefore, discovering novel natural products is very attractive.
 My research is based on screening and identifying new natural compounds with chemical analysis using mass spectrometry (MS) and NMR. Tetrodotoxin is one of the most famous natural toxins distributed in marine animals (i.g., pufferfish) and terrestrial amphibians (i.g., newts). Although the a high interest in this unique toxin, its origin and biosynthesis are still enigmatic. I have newly proposed biosynthetic pathways of terrestrial tetrodotoxin by discovering a number of tetrodotoxin analogues and putative biosynthetic intermediates in toxic newts. We aim to elucidate the origin and biosynthesis of terrestrial tetrodotoxin by combining chemical analysis and (meta)genomic analysis. Another major research subject is actinomycetes, an essential source of valuable compounds such as antibiotics and anthelmintics. We are tackling the rapid identification of signal molecules that control the secondary metabolism in actinomycetes and apply it to natural compound production. Through this program, we attempt to pave the way for preventing food poisoning caused by natural poisons and supplying beneficial natural compounds.