Azuma Project

Yusuke Azuma Yusuke Azuma, PhD is running his own project based in the Hedde Lab

Join us!!

We are always looking for motivated PhD/master students as well as highly qualified postdoc researchers. Please send your application to yusuke.azuma[at] ([at] = @) with the followings:

  • motivation letter
  • curriculum vitae
  • summary of your previous research (for PhD/postdoc position, up to 2 pages)
  • contact details of two referees

We also encourage and support you to apply for student scholarships or postdoc fellowships. There are currently positions available for a postdoctoral researcher and a master student with a research project supported by NCN Sonata 14. Please find the details here.


Protein cages are naturally occurring nano- to micro-size hollow particles formed entirely by hierarchical protein self-assembly. This protein shell can provide a distinct environment for guest molecules in biological complexity, of which strategy is widely employed for diverse purposes across different species. Protein cages have also been extensively exploited in the laboratory as ideal platforms for constructing delivery/display vehicles, reaction chambers, and novel nanomaterials. Our research team seeks to uncover the protein cage’s potentials to compose artificial subcellular compartments that serve as powerful tools for molecular and synthetic biology. We are preliminarily focusing on a cage-forming lumazine synthase and exploiting and expanding the protein cages through redesign and directed evolution. Namely, current projects are aimed (i) to develop a method for directed evolution of proteins; (ii) to establish a new biotechnology for heterologous protein production; and (iii) to understand the theory underlying the hierarchical assembly for future artificial compartment designs. We anticipate that our protein cage-based biotechnologies will contribute significantly to the development of interdisciplinary research realms ranging from basic biophysics, chemistry to therapeutics.

Relevant publications

  1. Tailoring Lumazine Synthase Assemblies for Bionanotechnology “Review article” Azuma Y, Edwardson TGW, and Hilvert D Chem. Soc. Rev. 2018, 47, 3543-3557.
  2. Laboratory Evolution of Virus-like Nucleocapsids from Non-viral Protein Cages Terasaka N, Azuma Y, and Hilvert D Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 2018, 115, 5432-5437.
  3. Substrate Sorting by a Supercharged Nanoreactor Azuma Y, Bader DLV, and Hilvert D J. Am. Chem. Soc. (ACS editor’s choice) 2018, 140, 860–863. [Featured in Nat. Catalysis 2018, 1, 94, and J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 1567]
  4. Diversification of Protein Cage Structure Using Circularly Permuted Subunits Azuma Y, Herger M, and Hilvert D J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 558–561.
  5. Modular Protein Cages for Size-Selective RNA Packaging in Vivo Azuma Y, Edwardson TGW, Terasaka N, and Hilvert D J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 566–569.
  6. Enzyme Encapsulation in an Engineered Lumazine Synthase Protein Cage “Book chapter” Azuma Y, and Hilvert D In Methods Mol. Biol. 2018, 1798, Protein Scaffolds, A. K. Udit (Eds), Humana Press, New York, pp 39-55.
  7. The C-terminal Peptide of Aquifex aeolicus Riboflavin Synthase Directs Encapsulation of Native and Foreign Guests by a Cage-forming Lumazine Synthase Azuma Y, Zschoche R, and Hilvert D J. Biol. Chem. 2017, 292, 10321–10327.
  8. Quantitative Packaging of Active Enzymes in a Protein Cage Azuma Y, Zschoche R, Tinzl M, and Hilvert D Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (Hot Paper) 2016, 55, 1531-1534.

  9. Other publications of PI

  10. Dipicolylamine/metal complexes that promotes direct cell-membrane penetration of octaarginine Kawaguchi Y, Ise S, Azuma Y, Takeuchi T, Kawano K, Le TK, Ohkanda J, and Futaki S Bioconjug. Chem. 2019, 30, 454-460.
  11. Modular Redesign of a Cationic Lytic Peptide to Promote Endosomal Escape of Biomacromolecules Azuma Y, Imai H, Kawaguchi Y, Nakase I, Kimura H, and Futaki S Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57,12771 –12774.
  12. Controlling Leucine-zipper Partner Recognition in Cells through Modifications of a-g Interactions Azuma Y, Kükenshöner T, Ma G, Yasunaga J, Imanishi M, Tanaka G, Nakase I, Maruno T, Kobayashi Y, Arndt KM, Matsuoka M, and Futaki S Chem. Commun. 2014, 50, 6364-6367.
  13. Dipicolylamine as a Unique Structural Element for Helical Peptides Azuma Y, Imai H, Yoshimura T, Kawabata T, Imanishi M, and Futaki S Org. Biomol. Chem. 2012, 10, 6062-6068.
  14. Enhanced Target-Specific Accumulation of Radio Labeled Antibodies by Conjugating Arginine-Rich Peptides as Anchoring Molecules Miyamoto R, Akizawa H, Nishikawa T, Uehara T, Azuma Y, Nakase I, Futaki S, Hanaoka H, Iida Y, Endo K, and Arano Y Bioconjug. Chem. 2010, 21, 2031-2037.
  15. Cobalt(II)-Responsive DNA Binding of a GCN4-bZIP Protein Containing Cysteine Residues Functionalized with Iminodiacetic Acid Azuma Y, Imanishi M, Yoshimura T, Kawabata T, and Futaki S Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2009, 48, 6853-6856.
  16. Hydrophilic Diazirine Polymer for One-Step Photo-Fabrication of Proteins on Polypropylene Surface Tomohiro T, Tachi N, Azuma Y, and Hatanaka Y Heterocycles 2009, 79, 897-908.
lumazine synthase