Progress in the Whole Cell Project of a Model Organism, Thermus thermophilus HB8

RIKEN SPring-8 Center, Harima Institute, Japan
â—‹Akio Ebihara Mayumi Kanagawa Chizu Kuroishi Noriko Nakagawa Ryoji Masui Takaho Terada Mikako Shirouzu Kunio Miki Shigeyuki Yokoyama Seiki Kuramitsu

The final goal of this research project is the understanding of all fundamental biological phenomena at atomic resolution. As a model organism for the structural and functional studies, an extremely thermophilic bacterium, Thermus thermophilus HB8, is very promising because of the small genome size (2 Mbp), the availability of genetic tools for functional analysis, and the thermostability of its proteins (http://www.thermus.org/). The complete genome sequence identifies approximately 2,200 genes. Out of them, 1,450 proteins have been overexpressed in E. coli, 930 purified, 395 X-ray diffraction data collected, and about 300 structures determined. As part of the functional genomics studies, we have proceeded to analyze mRNA expression (transcriptomics), protein expression (proteomics) and metabolite dynamics (metabolomics) of the wild-type strain and gene disruptants. Such the parallel structural and functional analysis provides a new insight into protein functions as well as a new functional clue to hypothetical proteins. Furthermore, we focus on several sets of proteins involved in a specific metabolism (e.g. transcription, stress response and nucleotide biosynthesis) to investigate how they work as a cellular system.