Thursday 25th and Friday 26th October 2007, NCMLS held its first symposium, New Frontiers in Molecular Life Sciences. The event was a fantastic success made possible by the combined efforts of the Seminar Committee, chaired by Gert-Jan Veenstra, NCMLS Scientific Manager, Adrian Cohen and the NCMLS secretariat. The two day symposium covered three sessions, Profiling the functional genome, Energy and homeostasis, and Protein interactions and signaling in health and disease.
Understanding gene regulation is fundamental to understanding cellular and disease processes and therefore the first session concentrated on functional genome profiling. Marion Lohrum opened the symposium, with her presentation about the p53 gene, the most frequently mutated gene in human cancer. To answer the question, "p53: to die or not to die?', Marion's research group uses ChIP-on-CHIP techniques to unravel the transcriptional response pathways of p53. The quest to better fight disease is also a quest to understand better regulatory circuitry. Frank Holstege, UMC Utrecht, presented his lab's recent work to develop Genome Control Maps - wiring-diagram models that describe how genes are regulated across the genome. The morning session was rounded off by Henk Stunnenberg, who presented the latest technology for high-throughput (epi)genetic analysis, Illumina Solexa machine. The extremely high sequencing capability, high resolution, speed and accuracy allows for a massive improvement of CHIP-Sequencing over more 'traditional' CHIP-Chip high-density microarray methodology. Using a solid-phase amplification system millions of sequence tags can be (re) sequenced on an unprecedented scale allowing genome-wide identification and characterization of histone binding sites or DNA binding sites.
The second session, Energy and homeostasis, was aimed at research into the metabolic disease disorders. Peter Willems presented his latest research into the cellular consequences of mitochondrial OXPHOS system dysfunction and Howy Jacobs, University of Tampere, Finland continued the discussion by further describing diseases of mitochondrial OXPHOS disorders and how his lab have generated Drosophila-disease models to study various diseases, such as developmental retardation, seizures/paralysis, hearing impairment, neurodegeneration and reduced fertility. Rene Bindels presented his work into the genetic defects and molecular mechanisms underlying various disorders with altered Ca2+ and/or Mg2+ states
auditorium of more than 300, the first day of the symposium drew to
a close with Nobel laureate Peter Agre's captivating lecture about
his 'serendipitous' discovery of aquaporin water channels, their
roles in clinical disorders…and impact in beauty products!
In recognition of Peter Agre's distinguished career and numerous publications in the Molecular Life Sciences, he was awarded the Hans Bloemendal medal. The Hans Bloemendal medal, awarded to scientists of outstanding international reputation, honours not only their achievements, but also those of Hans Bloemendal himself. The medal was presented to Peter Agre by Hans Bloemendal.
After a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Chalet Brakkestein, and a nights rest, the second day of the symposium moved its attention to protein interactions and signaling in health and disease. The day began with Arne Ostman, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, giving his insights into protein tyrosine phosphatases and oxidative stress, PDGF receptors and cancer therapy, and the therapeutic and prognosis potential of CAF cells. Hannie Kremer, presented her work into gene mutations in Usher's disease, a debilitating disease causing congenital hearing loss, vision impairment and balance problems. Nico Dantuma, also from the Karolinska Institute discussed the ubiquitin-proteosome degradation pathway and 'stable' proteosomal substrates that resist degradation through stabilization signal domains (e.g. UBA2 domain). Martijn Huijnen discussed the use of comparative analysis of existing genome-wide datasets for the prediction of protein interactions and for the prediction of genes involved in disease. Jan van Hest from the Institute for Molecules and Materials presented his progress towards the positional assembly of proteins and the formation of synthetic organelles. To mimic nature more closely it would be desirable not only to encapsulate enzymes, but also to position different types of enzymes in separate domains within a polymersome, for example, in the water pool or in the polymersome membrane. Finally, Leonard Pagliaro, Thermo Fisher Scientific, described new perspectives in cell-based pathway screening for small molecule inhibitors of protein-protein interactions.