Division of Systemic Life Science

Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Molecular Network

Research summary

Research outline

Rapid progress in molecular biology in the 1980s resulted in elucidation of a molecular basis for the protein antigen-specific immunity. Milestone discoveries such as X-ray crystallographic visualization of peptide-MHC interactions and the diversity of T-cell receptors generated by gene rearrangement convinced most immunologists with excitement that the molecular basis for “antigen specificity”, a most salient feature of our immune system, had been fully disclosed. While sharing excitement, I (young Dr. Sugita) was personally puzzled by a naive question that came up to me after clinical practice. “Does the universe of antigens recognized by the immune system only include proteins?” Campylobacter infection often induces immune responses directed against glycolipids. Autoantibodies against double-strand DNA are detected in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. These clinical observations provide evidence for the yet unappreciated ability of the immune system to specifically recognize lipids and nucleic acids. By orchestrating immunological, cell biological, and biochemical approaches, our laboratory aims to establish the molecular and cellular basis for lipid antigen presentation and T cell activation, hoping to advance our understanding of cancer, microbial infection, and autoimmunity. An important extension of this line of research includes development of a new type of lipid-based vaccines.

Main themes

  • immunology
  • cell biology
  • structural biology
  • lipid biochemistry


SUGITA, MasahikoProfessor

msugita@infront.kyoto-u.ac.jp See faculty

MORITA, DaisukeAssistant Professor

dmorita@infront.kyoto-u.ac.jp See faculty

MIZUTANI, TatsuakiAssistant Professor

mizutani@infront.kyoto-u.ac.jp See faculty
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