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Home > Introduction of our tenure-track faculties > Tera Masayuki

Introduction of our tenure-track faculties

Tera Masayuki

Affiliation Institute of Engineering
Division Division of Biotechnology and Life Science
Research field Synthetic organic chemistry, Chemical biology
Keyword(S) Bioorthogonal reaction, cellular adhesion, nucleic acids chemistry
Research experience

・Apr. 2007–Mar. 2009: Research associate, Department of Technology, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
・Apr. 2009–Mar. 2011: JSPS Research Followship for Young Scientists
・Apr. 2011–Jun. 2012: Researcher, Teijin Pharma Limited
・Jul. 2012–Jun. 2019: Research associate, Sunotry Foundation for Life Sciences
・Feb. 2016–Aug. 2018: Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Chemistry, University of Zurich

Educational background

・2005 B. Eng., Department of Biotechnology and Life Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
・2007 M. Eng., Department of Biotechnology and Life Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
・2010 Ph.D. Department of Biotechnology and Life Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology


・2009: The 89th Annual Meeting of The Chemical Society of Japan, Student Presentation Award
・2015: International Symposium on Nucleic Acids Chemistry, Outstanding Oral Presentation Award

Selected papers and publications

・M. Tera, T. Koyama, J. Murata, A. Furukawa, S. Mori, T. Azuma, T. Watanabe, K. Hori, A. Okazawa, Y. Kabe, M. Suematsu, H. Satake, E. Ono, M. Horikawa. “Identification of a binding protein for sesamin and characterization of its roles in plant growth” Sci. Rep., 10.1038/s41598-019-45003-7, (2019)
・M. Tera, Z. Harati-Taji, N. W. Luedtke. “Intercalation-Enhanced “Click” Crosslinking of DNA” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 57, 15405-15409, (2018).
・M. Tera, S. M. K. Glasauer, N. W. Luedtke. “In Vivo Incorporation of Azide Groups into DNA by Using Membrane-Permeable Nucleotide Triesters” ChemBioChem, 19, 1939-1943, (2018).
・M. Tera, T. Hirokawa, S. Okabe, K. Sugahara, H. Seimiya, K. Shimamoto. “Design and Synthesis of a Berberine Dimer: A Fluorescent Ligand with High Affinity towards G-Quadruplexes” Chem. Eur. J., 21, 14519-14528, (2015).

Research Description

Biological research based on chemistry, namely chemical biology, significantly contributes to the understanding and control of life itself, drug discovery research, and so on. For example, fluorescent labels are usually used when analyzing the behavior of a target drug or target protein in cells. However, since the labeling molecule often has a size equal to, or larger than, the target molecule, the original properties of the target molecule may be lost. By contrast, if the labeling molecule can attach to the target molecule inside the cell, its behavior can be tracked within the cell without greatly disturbing the natural systems. Bioorthogonal reactions have been actively researched. These reactions enable the ligation of the two molecules specifically inside the cells – that is, in an aqueous solution, under neutral conditions, and around 37 ºC – without disturbing biopolymers (proteins, nucleic acids, sugars, and lipids).
Recently, we have developed cyclooctadiynes (CODY) that have two fused alkynes (triple bond) in the molecule which can connect two azide groups (bioorthogonal functional groups) almost instantaneously in aqueous solution. This reaction does not react with amino acids, nucleotides, glutathione, etc., which are found abundantly in cells, and selectively forms covalent bonds only with azide groups. By introducing a chemically stable, biologically inactive, and tiny azide group to a target molecule, the resulting molecule can be easily linked in vivo using CODY. We are applying this method to sugar chains on the cellular surface, and nucleic acids-proteins to control their functions through organic chemical means.

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About TUAT's tenure-track program

The program has not only provided laboratory space, but also a start-up grant for the first year, so that I have been able to set up my own laboratory. While committee activities and classes are still a consideration, I can spend most of my time on teaching and researching with my students. I am very grateful for such preferential treatment on launching my laboratory with a view to obtaining tenure through research. I also believe that it is an ideal environment in which I can improve as a university professor, because my mentor gives me advice not only for research, but also how to teach in the best possible way.

Future aspirations

I worked for a company, a public research institute, and universities in both the US and Switzerland after graduating from TUAT. I would like to train researchers who can be actively independent of industry, government, or academia, by relaying my experience and practical vision as a researcher to the students. In terms of research, I would like to do practical research which is intrinsically rewarding for those involved and which offers a different perspective to that of industry.