MEETING CANCELLED: Biomolecular Condensates: Phase-Separated Organizers of Cellular Biochemistry
Scientific Organizers: J. Paul Taylor and Geraldine Seydoux
Date: January 24 - 27, 2021
Location: Eldorado Hotel & Spa, Santa Fe, NM, USA
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Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) has recently emerged as a pervasive and fundamental strategy for organizing cellular contents and regulating biological processes. Indeed, LLPS has been revealed to regulate a staggering and rapidly expanding array of cellular activities, including aspects of DNA replication, transcription, DNA repair, RNA metabolism, receptor signaling, synapse formation, and more. In cells, LLPS leads to the assembly of biomolecular condensates that span a vast range of sizes and complexities, from nanometer-scale structures composed of a few peptide chains, such as the nucleosome core, to micron-scale structures composed of thousands of biomolecules, such as the pre- and post-synaptic compartments of neurons. In addition, it is increasingly appreciated that disturbance of biological phase transitions is a primary driver of disease, most notably in neurodegeneration and cancer. While our understanding of the molecular basis for biological phase transitions and how this phenomenon regulates cell biology and disease has deepened, fundamental questions remain regarding the nature and function of these condensates. This meeting will bring together leading scientists from diverse areas impacted by phase separation to clarify the current state of knowledge in this exciting new field, covering topics including (1) How are the molecular identities of distinct condensates established and maintained? (2) How are their material properties controlled? (3) How does assembly and disassembly of these structures influence emergent biological functions? (4) How do disturbances in their biophysical properties contribute to disease such as neurodegeneration and cancer? This field is moving very, very rapidly and this meeting will disseminate a plethora of new scientific insights, conceptual advances, and technological breakthroughs to the community. Attendees will be introduced to technological innovations, including novel imaging approaches, biophysical approaches, and optogenetic approaches, to studying biomolecular condensates, as well as discoveries that are regularly generating paradigmatic shifts in how we think cells work, how certain diseases arise, and how one might intervene in these diseases. Understanding this complex field requires input from an unusually broad set of disciplines, including theorists in polymer chemistry, biophysicists, structural biologists, molecular and cell biologists, and disease pathologists. Therefore, a major goal of this meeting is to convene this broad expertise in one place to discuss the common problem and address the knowledge gaps together. This biannual meeting is the single most important meeting on this topic in the United States, and will draw thought-leaders from around the world, while also providing an entry point and overview for investigators new to this field, to illuminate this new paradigm in cellular organization, function and disease.