The 2nd Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDP) Gordon Research Conference will be held between July 08 and July 13, 2012, at the Mt. Snow Resort in West Dover, Vermont, USA. The Co-chairs for this conference are Dr. Rohit Pappu from Washington University in St. Louis, USA and Dr. Peter Tompa from Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. The long-held view has been that proteins have to form ordered three-dimensional structures in order to achieve their proper biological functions. This view has been challenged by the observation that roughly 30% of eukaryotic proteins fail to fold autonomously and their inability to fold is required for function. Such proteins, referred to as intrinsically disordered proteins or IDPs are implicated in a wide variety of functions that include fundamental processes such as transcriptional regulation, signal transduction, protein trafficking, protein homeostasis and quality control. Most biological functions are based on molecular recognition and complex networks are organized around a series of inter-related protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interfaces. In the traditional view, molecular recognition is achieved through a combination of shape complementarity and specific interactions between a protein and its binding partner. Small-scale changes in shape are envisaged to achieve highly specific complexes. IDPs add an entirely new dimension to molecular recognition because it requires large- scale conformational changes to achieve binding. It also raises the challenging question of how specific recognition can be achieved in the absence of precise pre-organized shape complementarity. And yet, IDPs are ubiquitous in nature and form the basis for a range of complex biological functions including novel functions that go beyond molecular recognition whereby IDPs play roles in self-assembly and as entropic machines. The growing recognition of the role of IDPs in complex biological functions makes this an opportune time to bring together scientists in the field to identify the important questions, take stock of current progress, and chart the course for rapid and meaningful progress in the study of conformational heterogeneity and its role in protein function. A point of special relevance to NIH is that IDPs are overrepresented in association with numerous human diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Viewed in this light of this, the 2012 Gordon Conference on Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs) is shaping up to be an exciting and important meeting. The conference will provide a timely opportunity to bring experts and young scientists together to take stock of progress and chart the course for future developments with regards to the role of IDPs in basic biology and identifying novel therapeutic targets in IDP-associated diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders and cancers. The program features an outstanding and diverse group of scientists at the forefront of research in the IDP field. The meeting will be organized around seven thematic sessions focusing on Transcriptional regulation, Signaling pathways &modules, IDP phase behavior and Molecular recognition, Emerging Technologies for Studying IDPs, IDP quality control and homeostasis, Regulated self-assembly and mis- assembly of IDPs, and IDP targeting, trafficking and processing. The meeting will be bookended by two keynote sessions. The tools traditionally used for studying protein structures and structure-function relationships are generally unsuitable in studies of IDPs because of their underlying conformational heterogeneity. Novel advances are needed and the IDP Gordon Conference will showcase the development of state-of-the art biophysical methods, advances in theory and computation, and the synergy with novel tools from molecular biology for studying IDPs and developing a quantitative perspective on their functions in vivo. Poster sessions will be organized to encourage active participation from young scientists. The organizers have arranged for postdocs and graduate students to compete for up to seven awards based on their poster presentations, which will be judged by leaders in the IDP field. The new location for this conference is scenic, convenient, and promises to be an excellent setting for numerous information discussions during the conference. A major goal associated with this request for R13 funding is to provide support for young scientists to participate in the Gordon Research Conference. In choosing the recipients for support through NIH funds, the organizers will pay special attention to the need for drawing young scientists who are women and belong to under-represented minority groups.
Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are involved in a range of fundamental biological processes including transcriptional regulation and signal transduction. These proteins are also targets of quality control mechanisms required to maintain protein homeostasis. IDPs fail to fold autonomously and their marginal stability makes them prone to self-associations and heterotypic interactions, which are implicated in neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease as well as a wide range of cancers. The goal of the IDP Gordon Research Conference is to expand our knowledge of the biomedical relevance of IDPs and identify novel targets for therapeutic intervention in neurodegenerative disorders and cancers.