Funds are requested to support a Biophysical Society sponsored "Thematic Meeting on Membrane Protein Folding." Because of its central role in biology, protein folding has been a major topic in molecular biology over the last 50 years. Yet work on membrane protein folding has been surprisingly limited. While there are many meetings in protein folding, it is common that membrane proteins are not even included. As a result there remains a major gap in our understanding of these important proteins and their associated misfolding diseases. The goal of the meeting is to foster the development of this still fledgling field by devoting a meeting entirely to the topic. To promote international participation in the field, we will hold the meeting at the Korea Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) in Seoul, South Korea. Most of the participants will be housed on the forested KIAS campus and we will take meals together in the KIAS cafeteria, which will facilitate interactions. Many conferences are held at KIAS so they have considerable expertise in running meetings and they will also provide generous financial support for this meeting. We will bring together a group of scientists who have both practical and fundamental interest in the problem of membrane protein folding. While the focus is on biophysical aspects of the protein folding problem, we have included a session on misfolding diseases and have included three talks on the involvement of membranes in the aging diseases, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. We have also incorporated diverse techniques including single molecule experiments, NMR, crystallography, computational prediction and design, molecular dynamics simulations, experimental analysis of the thermodynamics and kinetics of folding, directed evolution for stability, and in vivo folding. This group should make or a lively discussion with participants who will bring many different perspectives to the problem. We are very interested in attracting and supporting the next generation of scientists to this field so we have incorporated a number of talks that will be selected from poster presenters, who are traditionally more junior investigators. We will also facilitate the mentoring of young scientists y adding "topic tables" at lunches where young investigators will be encouraged to sit with senior investigators. In part, through this grant application, we very much hope to provide support for junior scientists to come to the meeting.
Membrane proteins are central actors in many biological processes, including those relevant to human health. Membrane proteins are involved in such important biological processes as signaling pathways, metabolism, and gene expression that go awry in disease states. Protein mutations causing misfolding are directly implicated in many diseases. For example, Alzheimer's disease and most cystic fibrosis cases are caused by misfolding of membrane proteins. Indeed membrane proteins are the targets of the vast majority of drugs. The Biophysical Society's Thematic Meeting on Membrane Protein Folding will explore recent advances and future trends in understanding the structure, stability, motions, and interactions of membrane proteins and how these fundamental properties impact function in biological and medical contexts. These fundamental studies will be essential for developing new therapeutic strategies.