Our objective is to organize and promote a Gordon Research Conference that will be a springboard for multidisciplinary discussion of ideas and technologies related to a mechanistic understanding of membrane transport processes and their regulation. This is a particularly opportune moment for such a meeting. Recent success in obtaining high-resolution structures of membrane proteins from model organisms has inspired the field and encouraged entry of a new generation of investigators. Though new structures continue to emerge at a rapid pace, functional analysis is having a rebirth in the context of these structures;mechanistic analyses guided by transporter structures are transforming our field. Mechanism encompasses both the detailed structure and the dynamic behavior of a transporter or channel;the broad and long term goal of the conference is to understand mechanism by tightly integrating insights from static structures with those from dynamic functional analyses. Understanding fundamental transporter mechanisms is a key step to understanding their physiological functions, their regulation, and their disruption in disease. Accordingly, the specific aims of """"""""Mechanisms of membrane transport"""""""" GRC are to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity to link form with function and encourage productive interactions between young investigators - largely trained in the physical and biophysical sciences - and more established investigators whose experience is in areas such as physiology, cell biology and biochemistry. Such dialogue occurs with difficulty in other settings, but is essential to the professional development of junior investigators and invigorates the portfolio of more senior scientists. This requires that our Conference emphasize the most relevant recent findings, and that we recruit promising young scientists as well as more seasoned investigators. This dual mission has been a guiding criterion in our selection of speakers and our organization of the program. Adequate financial support is essential and especially important for recruiting promising young investigators and ensuring adequate representation of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. This cohort will soon be leading the field, and we must provide them sufficient financial support to attend a conference that will have a striking impact on their future. This work highly related to human health: transporters and channels are key elements in renal regulation of serum ion levels, intestinal absorption of nutrients, and neuronal modulation of signaling, among a host of other processes. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of these proteins will lead to better understanding of normal function, of diseases like hypertension, malabsorption syndromes, and cystic fibrosis, and to development of new and improved therapeutic agents.
By regulating the movement of water soluble substrates such as ions and nutrients, transporters and channels play essential roles in both the kidney and digestive systems. Some transport proteins, called ion channels, exist primarily to send electrical signals by moving ions like K+, Ca2+, or Cl- across the membrane, whereas others, such as transporters and pumps, are involved in both signaling and nutrient access/removal. Transporters and channels act in concert as the core elements of the kidney's machinery to regulate serum ion concentrations, which in turn is essential for regulating blood's pressure and composition: dysfunction of key transporters and channels in the kidney leads directly to disorders of blood pressure, including Bartter's syndrome and other diseases. In the gut, transporters allow the selective uptake of nutrients into the bloodstream;dysfunction of these leads to malabsorption syndromes. Conversely, diseases can often be cured or controlled when transporter function is carefully modulated, as by a wide range of drugs in clinical use today (diuretics, antihypertensives, antidepressants and many others). To effectively understand and cure diseases of membrane transport function, we must understand how these transport proteins operate at the molecular level. Advancing this understanding is the goal of the """"""""Mechanisms of Membrane Transport"""""""" Gordon Research Conference, which brings together some of the foremost scientists studying transport proteins to present and compare results, discuss new ideas, and establish collaborations.