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Chief Scientist Laboratories Biofunctional Synthetic Chemistry Laboratory

Chief Scientist: Katsunori Tanaka (Ph.D.)

Research Summary

Katsunori  Tanaka(Ph.D.)

Although many efficient bond-forming reactions have been developed in the field of synthetic organic chemistry, their utility typically fails to translate in complex mixtures present in cellular or living biosystems. As such, only a handful of effective labeling or conjugation methods in biosystems are readily available. To address this issue, we are synthetically exploring the unique reactivity of conjugated imines for their potential in novel chemical reactions. The benefit of this approach is that since a large part of amine-containing biomacromolecules are biosynthesized through imine chemistry, imine-mediated chemical reactions will not face the same challenges that classical synthetic organic chemical reactions face within living systems. In parallel to this work, our studies have also shown that the unique reactivity of imines could be involved in pathways that regulate biologically important processes.

Besides usage in methods of labeling or conjugation, the novel reactivity of imines, in combination with other advanced metal-catalyzed transformations, could alternatively be used in the multi-step synthesis of biofunctional molecules within living biosystems. Through a concept we refer to as “Therapeutic In Vivo Synthetic Chemistry”, we aim to develop an adaptable system where a cascade of organic transformations can be directly executed at target regions within the body during predefined times to generate a bioactive molecule that elicits a localized biological effect. Towards this goal, we are analyzing, with the use of molecular imaging, the complex “pattern recognition” mechanisms of natural glycans in vivo and applying the glycan-based interactions to direct various linked biomolecules to desired organs and tissues.

Main Research Fields

  • Chemistry

Related Research Fields

  • Complex Systems
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biology
  • Medicine, Dentistry & Pharmacy
  • Biomolecular Chemistry
  • Chemical Biology
  • Biofunctional Chemistry


  • Molecular Imaging
  • Theranostics
  • Bioactive Compound
  • Glycan
  • Therapeutic In Vivo Synthetic Chemistry

Selected Publications

  • 1.M. Taichi, S. Nomura, I. Nakase, R. Imamaki, Y. Kizuka, F. Ota, N. Dohmae, S. Kitazume, N. Taniguchi, K. Tanaka:
    "In-situ ligation of high- and low-affinity ligands to cell surface receptors enables highly selective recognition"
    Adv. Sci., 1700147 (2017).
  • 2.K. Vong, K. Tsubokura, Y. Nakao, T. Tanei, S. Noguchi, S. Kitazume, N. Taniguchi, K. Tanaka:
    "Cancer cell targeting driven by selective polyamine reactivity with glycine propargyl esters"
    Chem. Commun. 53, 8403-8406 (2017).
  • 3.K. Fujiki, S. Yano, T. Ito, Y. Kumagai, Y. Murakami, O. Kamigaito, H. Haba, K. Tanaka:
    "A One-Pot Three-Component Double-Click Method for Synthesis of [67Cu]-Labeled Biomolecular Radiotherapeutics"
    Sci. Rep. 7, 1912 (2017).
  • 4.K. Tsubokura, K. K. H. Vong, A. R. Pradipta, A. Ogura, S. Urano, T. Tahara, S. Nozaki, H. Onoe, Y. Nakao, R. Sibgatullina, A. Kurbangalieva, Y. Watanabe, K. Tanaka:
    "In vivo gold complex catalysis within live mice"
    Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 56, 3579-3584 (2017).
  • 5.L. Latypova, R. Sibgatullina, A. Ogura, K. Fujiki, A. Khabibrakhmanova, T. Tahara, S. Nozaki, S. Urano, K, Tsubokura, H. Onoe, Y. Watanabe, A. Kurbangalieva, K. Tanaka:
    "Sequential double “clicks” toward structurally well-defined heterogeneous N-glycoclusters: The importance of cluster heterogeneity on pattern recognition in vivo"
    Adv. Sci., 4, 1600394 (2017).
  • 6.K. K. H. Vong, S. Maeda, K. Tanaka:
    "Propargyl-assisted selective amidation applied in C-terminal glycine peptide conjugation"
    Chem. Eur. J., 22, 18865-18872 (2016).
  • 7.T. Iwata, S. Otsuka, K. Tsubokura, A. Kurbangalieva, D. Arai, K. Fukase, Y. Nakao, K. Tanaka:
    "One-pot evolution of ageladine A via bio-inspired cascade towards selective modulators of neuronal differentiation"
    Chem. Eur. J., 22, 14707-14716 (2016).
  • 8.A. Tsutsui, T. Zako, T. Bu, Y. Yamaguchi, M. Maeda, K. Tanaka:
    "1,5-Diazacyclooctanes, as Exclusive Oxidative Polyamine Metabolites, Inhibit Amyloid-β(1-40) Fibrillization"
    Adv. Sci., 3, 1600082 (2016).
  • 9.A. R. Pradipta, M. Taichi, I. Nakase, E. Saigitbatalova, A. Kurbangalieva, S. Kitazume, N. Taniguchi, K. Tanaka:
    "Uncatalyzed Click Reaction between Phenyl Azides and Acrolein: 4-Formyl-1,2,3-Triazolines as “Clicked” Markers for Visualizations of Extracellular Acrolein Released from Oxidatively Stressed Cells"
    ACS Sens., 1, 623-632 (2016).
  • 10.A. Ogura, T. Tahara, S. Nozaki, K. Morimoto, Y. Kizuka, S. Kitazume, M. Hara, S. Kojima, H. Onoe, A. Kurbangalieva, N. Taniguchi, Y. Watanabe, K. Tanaka:
    "Visualizing Trimming Dependence of Biodistribution and Kinetics with Homo- and Heterogeneous N-Glycoclusters on Fluorescent Albumin"
    Sci. Rep., 6, 21797 (2016).

Recent Research Results

Annual research report

Related Links

Lab Members

Principal investigator

Katsunori Tanaka
Chief Scientist

Core members

Ambara Rachmat Pradipta
Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Kenward Vong
Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Katsumasa Fujiki
Postdoctoral Researcher
Shogo Nomura
Postdoctoral Researcher
Shohei Eda
Postdoctoral Researcher
Risa Asano
Postdoctoral Researcher
Peni Ahmadi
Postdoctoral Researcher
Igor Nasibullin
Postdoctoral Researcher
Sayaka Urano
Technical Staff II
Kazuki Tsubokura
Junior Research Associate
Yixuan Lin
International Program Associate
Yoichiro Harada
Visiting Scientist
Ayumi Tsutsui
Visiting Scientist
Takefumi Murase
Visiting Scientist
Motoko Fujii
Part-time Worker
Arisa Kishimoto
Part-time Worker
Yasuko Egawa
Part-time Worker
Masayo Ohara

Contact Information

N508-1 Chemistry and Materials Physics Building,
2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan

Email: kotzenori [at] riken.jp