The Gordon Research Conference on Ligand Recognition and Molecular Gating will be held from March 23 to March 28, 2014, in Ventura, CA. The conference aims to share the latest knowledge on the functional mechanisms of ion channels;G-protein coupled receptors, and solute transporters. Specifically, the goal of the conference is to increase our understanding of how integral membrane proteins bind or recognize ligands (ions, small molecules, proteins), and how binding elicits conformational changes that lead to transport of the ligands across the membrane, the gating of channels, or the transmission of signals. There will be an emphasis on combining high-resolution structural data with functional and dynamical information to understand mechanisms. The conference is timely because new high-resolution structures of membrane proteins are solved at increasingly rapid pace. In addition, new methods to study the dynamics of the receptors, channels and transporters are being developed and transform the way we understand functional mechanisms. The fields covered in this conference are highly related to human health: channels, transporters and GPCRs are the most fundamental molecular substrates of cellular signaling in the nervous system, among a host of other processes. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of these proteins will lead to better understanding of normal function, of diseases like epilepsy, hypertension, malabsorption syndromes, cystic fibrosis, and to development of new and improved therapeutic agents. The conference brings together scientists who do not consistently meet because they work on three different classes of membrane proteins. However, they benefit tremendously from interacting because the proteins share common mechanistic principles. The program will have about 40 speakers, well-established leaders in the field of membrane protein research and method development as well as promising young investigators. Nine sessions will address structure, dynamics and mechanism of membrane transporters, ion channels, GPCRs, and specific mitochondrial and bacterial functions. The Gordon Research Conference on Ligand Recognition and Molecular Gating will stimulate advances in this area of membrane protein research by bringing together some of the foremost scientists in this community to present and compare results, discuss new ideas, and establish collaborations.
More than 50% of current pharmaceutical targets are integral membrane proteins of the types discussed at this conference (channels, transporters and G-protein coupled receptors). Understanding the structure and function of these membrane bound proteins is one of the most important goals of this century, both for science and for development of new therapeutics. At this conference the foremost scientists in the field will discuss results and new experimental strategies designed to have impact on areas such as cancer and bacterial drug resistance (transporters), vision/depression/cardiovascular diseases (G-protein coupled receptors), neurodegenerative diseases, developmental abnormalities and neurological diseases such as epilepsy (ion channels).