This proposal requests support for the 2014 Protein Transport across Cell Membranes Gordon Research Conference (GRC) and Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) March 8-14 at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Texas. Elucidation of protein transport mechanisms remains a fundamental objective of modern cell biology as ~30% of all proteins are either transported across or integrated into cellular membranes. Achieving correct cellular compartmentalization by these mechanisms is essential for cell function, and different facets of protein translocation directly impact human health. Many genetic diseases result from defects in protein translocation or membrane protein insertion;infectious microbes deliver virulence factors by a variety of protein transport systems;and most current pharmaceuticals target secreted or membrane proteins. The explosion of membrane protein structures, the use of high-throughput genetic analyses, the emergence of deep sequencing, and advances in super-resolution microscopy have fueled rapid advances in the protein transport field. Thus, a dedicated protein transport conference, assembling specialists in diverse methodologies and employing various experimental systems, is essential for continued progress. This conference is the only regularly scheduled meeting in the US devoted to an in-depth coverage of this research field. The 2014 conference will open with overview presentations by prominent leaders in the field to highlight unifying concepts, major experimental systems, and emerging research areas. Each of the subsequent eight sessions, organized by research topic, will incorporate talks that employ different methodologies. This cross-disciplinary juxtaposition seeks to stimulate new research directions within each area. Research topics will include: 1) sorting and targeting of proteins to different intracellular membranes, 2) the passage of proteins through translocation channels, 3) the mechanisms of membrane protein insertion and assembly, 4) the structural biology of transport machines, 5) specialized pathogenic transport pathways, 6) biogenesis of organelles, and others. Discussion leaders and speakers for each session will include both established leaders and early career scientists. The organizers are also keenly focused on nurturing the next generation of scientists in this field. We will therefore continue the postdoc-organized GRS to sharpen the skills of postdocs and students in presentation, discussion, and interaction with senior investigators. Statistics for the last four protein transport GRCs indicate an influx of young women into this historically male-dominated field.
We aim to encourage that trend with preference for selection of GRC and GRS speakers and discussion leaders. Preference for talk selection will also be given to minorities to increase diversity in this field. Funds are requested from NIH for partial support of registration and travel for GRC speakers and discussion leaders, as well as exceptional early career investigators who speak at the GRS. Achievement of our objectives will result in a highly dynamic and interactive conference that also ushers a young and diverse generation into this discipline of cell biology.
This conference brings together scientists to discuss basic mechanisms of how a cell uses protein transport pathways to assemble its membranous compartments, secrete proteins, and assemble cell surface receptors. Topics include protein translocation pathways that underlie various inherited human diseases, and protein transport systems used by infectious microbes to deliver pathogenicity factors. This conference will contribute to an increased understanding of the causes of disease and will identify potential therapeutic approaches.