|Record Abstracts, Subgroups Promise Full Meeting|
A record 3,128 were submitted for the August deadline for the 42nd ASCB Annual Meeting this year, to be held in San Francisco from December 14-18. An additional 200 abstracts are anticipated for the late submission deadline of October 15. Member-organized subgroup applications also exceeded previous years’ submissions substantially: twenty-three Special Interest Subgroups will be held on Saturday, December 14.
|Special Interest Subgroups|
The following member-organized sessions were selected by the ASCB Program Committee for presentation at the ASCB 42nd Annual Meeting in San Francisco. All Annual Meeting registrants are welcome to participate; no separate registration is required. All subgroups will be held at the Moscone Convention Center, from 1:00 PM 5:30 PM on Saturday, December 14. Speakers and room numbers are posted in the Annual Meeting Program.
Actin in the Nucleus
Monomeric (or low assembly state) actin was long thought to enter the nucleus passively, as a “thermodynamic wanderer”. But now, there is growing evidence for functional actin in the nucleus, as well as actin-related proteins and myosin.
Automated Interpretation of Fluorescence Microscope Images
Fluorescence microscopy is widely used to study cellular systems, but only recently have significant efforts been made to create fully automated systems for the interpretation of resulting images. Interpretation in this context means going beyond quantitating and describing specific images to building models of cellular processes that are driven by image data.
Building the Cell II: Development of Complex Structures in Single Cells
Modern cell biology has made great strides in understanding cell structure and function. As with any engineering problem, however, there is a third important aspect that needs to be understood besides structure and function, and that is assembly. How are the complex structures found within the cell specified? Last year’s Building the Cell session focused on reducing the problem down into the most general and fundamental processes of morphogenesis (control of size, position, etc.). This year we will extend the discussion to the bigger picture and examine the generation of specific cellular structures. Studies on cellular morphogenesis have been hampered in multicellular organisms by issues of cell-cell interactions, such as adhesion, that impinge on cell structure. Discussion will concentrate on development of structure in single-celled organisms, for which cell autonomy is guaranteed.
Cell Biology of Cell Protrusions
Cell protrusions are extensions of cell edges that are formed either as discrete, fingerlike projections (filopodia, spikes or microspikes, podosomes) or as broader sheets (lamellipodia, invadopodia, pseudopodia). Although identified microscopically over many years on oocytes, cells of early embryos, cultured cells and neuronal growth cones, progress in understanding the structure, regulation and function of cell protrusions has been limited by their morphological diversity, transient and dynamic nature, sensitivities to fixation and a lack of molecular markers. In addition, research into cell protrusions is currently found scattered in different disciplines (eg, cell adhesion, actin cytoskeleton, neurobiology). The session will address a perceived need for a forum to bring currently active researchers together, at a time when studies of protrusions in a number of different systems are sufficiently advanced to enable meaningful discussion and comparison. The session aims to 1) raise recognition of cell protrusions as entities of cell structure and function; 2) facilitate and focus discussion of shared or distinct aspects; 3) identify open questions and directions ripe for future study.
Cell Signaling Pathways Required for Skeletal Development and Maintenance of Bone Architecture
Regulatory factors required for the commitment and differentiation of osteogenic stem cells during embryonic development are obligatory for the continued renewal of bone throughout life. Many of these factors initiate cascades that signal renewal of the bone forming osteoblasts and the bone resorbing osteoclasts, as well as integrate activities to support bone tissue remodeling in response to physiologic cues. The session will focus on the transduction of physiological signals from the extracellular matrix to the nucleus for the activation and suppression of skeletal gene transcription. There is a necessity to characterize the molecular mechanisms by which multiple signaling pathways converge to coordinate bone phenotype restricted expression. Regulatory parameters that are operative for osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation, and for cellcell and cell-matrix interactions, have become important paradigms for identifying components of the mechanotra induction pathways, pathways that are mediated by the Smad/TGF/ beta super family as well as by MAP kinase and tyrosine kinase signaling pathways that mediate activities of tissue-specific transcription factors.
Four invited speakers will present state of the art reviews of molecular mechanisms by which major signal transduction pathways elicit tissue specific responses in skeletal cells. Others wishing to present material should contact the organizer.
Computational Cell Biology with the Virtual Cell
The Virtual Cell is a computational tool for developing simulations of cellular processes within the actual three-dimensional geometry of experimental cells. Use of the Virtual Cell technology has recently been applied to a number of cellular modeling studies (e.g. Fink et al., 2000. Biophysical Journal. 79:163183; Smith, et al., 2002. Science 295:488-491). Developed by the NIH-designated National Resource for Cell Analysis and Modeling (NRCAM), the Virtual Cell technology is freely accessible to the academic scientific community from a central server (www.nrcam.uchc.edu). Designed specifically for cell biologists, the software allows input of biochemical reactions and species, membrane channels and pumps, and macromolecular structures along with the associated cellular geometries in the form of segmented images. Once a physiological model has been developed, the system transparently generates a mathematical model that can subsequently be used to simulate complex behavior. If desired, the mathematical model can be directly input or edited via the math model interface. Models and simulations are subsequently stored in a dedicated database; models can be maintained as private or shared among research groups or the general public. The session will begin with an overview of the Virtual Cell as a tool for computational cell biology and examples of its use, followed by a walkthrough of its design and user interface. A bank of laptop computers will be provided to allow interested researchers to explore the software with the aid of several of the developers using preloaded tutorials and models. Supported by grant RR13186 from the National Center for Research Resources.
Cytoskeletal Pharmacology and the Role of Cytoskeletal Proteins in Human Disease
The cytoskeleton is a diverse, multi-component framework that plays a fundamental role in many cellular activities in cluding mitosis, cell division, intracellular transport, cell motility, muscle contraction, and the regulation of cell polarity and organization. Cytoskeletal proteins have been implicated in the etiology or pathogenesis of a wide variety of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory disease, fungal, bacterial and viral infections, and neurodegenerative disease.
This implication arises from linkages between mutations in cytoskeletal genes and human disease and from the use of pharmaceuticals that bind to cytoskeletal proteins and modulate their function. Well-known examples of such drugs include the taxanes and vinca alkaloids, both examples of anti-mitotic agents that modulate microtubule dynamics.
While the taxanes and vinca alkaloids have served as the cornerstones of modern chemotherapy since their introduction 20 years ago, their use is severely constrained by dose-limiting toxicities related to the broad role that tubulin plays in important cellular processes unrelated to mitosis. However, the rapid growth in the field of cytoskeletal research is leading to the identification and characterization of cytoskeletal proteins that, unlike the ubiquitous tubulin, play specific roles in critical cell processes and, therefore, may be potential targets for improved therapies.
The goal of this session is to inform and stimulate discussion around the role of cytoskeletal proteins in normal cell biology and in disease as well as the evidence that small molecule intervention in cytoskeletal function may have therapeutic application. Supported by an Education Grant from Cytokinetics Inc.
Embryonic Stem Cells
Mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells are becoming a very powerful developmental model in which to study commitment and lineage progression not only in animals but also in an in vitro setting. For example, studies on more than 20 different and diverse lineages have been reported over recent years. The intention of this session is to highlight the utility and potential of this ES cell-based in vitro approach by bringing together some recent developments in a few selected lineages.
Emerging Environmental Contaminants: A Role for Cell Biology?
Every day the media assails us about some environmental catastrophe or previously unsuspected environmental contaminant. Notable examples just this past year range from detection of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment, finding high levels of Scotchgard in polar and oceanic animals and the discovery that PPB levels of the herbicide atrazine causes hermaphroditism in frogs. This information often does not lead to policy changes because there is no mechanistic basis for how these chemicals can have harmful biological effects at such low levels. This session will bring together cell biology research describing how efflux transporters that act as first lines of defense against xenobiotics can be compromised by anthropogenic chemicals, how PPB levels of agricultural or industrial chemicals can effect sex change or chromosome disjunction and how these chemicals can alter cell function and developmental fate. There is a paucity of cell biological research in these areas and this session will showcase how good science can make a difference in understanding the observed phenomena and hopefully effect rational policy decisions.
Emerging Roles for the Tight Junction
Tight Junctions are a hallmark of polarized vertebrate epithelial cells and long recognized for their ability to create intercellular barriers to paracellular transport. More recently, additional roles for the TJ have been established in cell polarity, vesicle targeting, cell-cell signaling and human disease. This session will highlight these recent insights and their molecular basis.
The Endocytosis and Trafficking of Caveolae/raft Domains
Caveolae are smooth invaginations of the plasma membrane rich in cholesterol and sphingolipids that form a subclass of detergent insoluble membranes or glycolipid rafts. Caveolae are distinguished from rafts not only by their invaginated morphology but also by the association of stable plasma membrane caveolae with caveolin. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that raft domain heterogeneity extends beyond caveolin association. Heterogeneity of these domains extends to their lipid composition as well as their functionality in signaling, plasma membrane distribution and endocytosis. Plasma membrane associated rafts and caveolae are cell surface signaling platforms but might also act to regulate signaling by sequestering or segregating signaling molecules. Both caveolae and rafts have been implicated in endocytosis and caveolae/ raft-mediated endocytosis can be defined as clathrin-independent and dynaminand cholesterol-dependent. However, the extent to which caveolae and raft endocytic pathways are distinct remains to be addressed as do the apparently opposing roles of caveolin as a stabilizer of cell surface caveolae and as an inducer of caveolae-mediated endocytosis. Caveolae-mediated endocytic pathways target both the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus and can be mediated by a caveolinpositive endosomal compartment. This session will address and discuss the varied and multiple aspects of caveolae/raft trafficking in the cell.
Deficient or improper gap junction function has recently been associated with a variety of disease states including some forms of neuropathy, hereditary deafness, cataracts, skin disease, heart disease, and cancer. This session will include presentations of recent developments regarding the cellular and molecular biology of gap junction proteins (connexins) including the following areas: channel regulation/properties, consequences of intercellular communication, connexin trafficking/ gap junction assembly, and developmental studies in knockout mice.
Intermediate Filaments: Novel Roles in Cellular Physiology and in the Organization of Nuclear Architecture
For many years intermediate filaments (IF) were seen as strictly structural non-dynamic cytoskeletal components, with functions only relevant to the response of cells to mechanical stress. However, this vision of IF has been put to rest by the recent findings that they are dynamic entities both within the nucleus and the cytoplasm. A plethora of recent findings demonstrates that IFs are moving toward center stage with respect to metazoan cell physiology. In particular the involvement of the nuclear lamins in DNA replication and in transcription, has made it evident, even to the hardest-core molecular biologist, that an understanding of IF structure and function has now become a pressing need. This is further emphasized by the recent findings that point mutations in the human nuclear lamin A gene can give rise to a wide spectrum of different diseases ranging from cardiomyopathy and muscular dystrophy to lipodystrophy. Likewise, mutations in genes encoding members of all four classes of cytoplasmic IFs are known to cause diseases ranging from nervous system disorders to blistering diseases of the skin. These findings taken together with new insights into the structure of IF proteins at atomic resolution, their assembly, their remarkably diverse motile properties, and their molecular motor-mediated incorporation into the cytoskeleton of living cells, makes them a valuable model for carrying out a variety of cell biological studies.
Mitotic Defects in Cancer Cells
Genomic instability is increasingly recognized as a key component of tumorigenesis. One source of instability is segregational mistakes caused by defects in the assembly or function of the mitotic apparatus, or the inability of chromosomes to properly associate with the spindle. Abnormalities in cell cycle checkpoints exacerbate these problems by preventing the pause needed for repair or compensation. This session describes and discusses some recent developments in identifying and understanding the defects in cancer cells causing the failure to accurately segregate the chromosomes.
Monomeric GTPases Regulating Intracellular Protein Traffic
Monomeric GTPases that belong to the Ypt/Rab and Arf families are key regulators of intracellular protein traffic. Recently, members of the Rho GTPase family were also suggested to regulate protein traffic. In the exocytic, endocytic and retrograde pathways both proteins and membrane are transported between intracellular organelles via vesicles or tubules that are formed at one compartment and fuse with the next. Monomeric GTPases are molecular switches that cycle between the GDP-and the GTPbound states. When in the GTP-bound state, GTPases interact with effectors that carry out the various functions required for vesicular transport. Work in recent years has uncovered a role of some members of these three families in the many steps of the protein transport pathways. GTPase interactors that serve as nucleotide-cycling regulators or downstream effectors have also been identified. These studies suggest some basic mechanisms by which GTPases regulate individual transport steps. The mechanisms range from sorting cargo in forming vesicles, through actual vesicle formation, movement, and docking, to membrane remodeling and fusion. In addition, new evidence suggests that crosstalk between monomeric GTPases might serve in the coordination of individual transport steps. This session will discuss 1) new mechanisms by which monomeric GTPases regulate vesicular transport, 2) novel ideas about the role of these GTPases in the coordination of different transport steps, and 3) the possible role of GTPases in the coordination of protein transport with other cellular processes.
Central to the form and function of muscle are the myofibrils, membranous components and the cytoskeleton that provide the structure, the contractile force and regulation. The challenges of identifying the essential steps involved in these processes and understanding how the myofibrillogenesis is initiated and controlled are still unmet. This session will present nine short presentations on the latest advances in the study of myofibrillogenesis. Supported by an Educational Grant from the Universal Imaging Corp.
New Techniques for Studying Living Cell Dynamics
Several new techniques for studying living cell dynamics have emerged during the past two years. Six of these will be presented in this session. New self-referencing biosensors that can detect oxygen and glucose fluxes across single cells with exceptional spatial resolution will be described. These probes reveal the dynamics of molecular transport by detecting gradients in the extended boundary layer surrounding a single cell. This approach is complemented by a new technique to be presented called PEBBLES for optical chemical imaging of oxygen and other molecules inside living cells. Two other approaches for studying intracellular dynamics will follow, and several applications for quantum dots and fluorescence correlation microscopy for imaging RNA trafficking will be presented. New approaches for detecting both intracellular molecule movements and membrane dynamics, including the application of GFP-labeled probes of membrane microdomains (rafts) will be described. Results using Second Harmonic Generation Microscopy for probing both intrinsic proteins and extrinsically applied voltage-sensitive dyes in living cells will be presented. Supported by an educational grant from the NIH National Center for Research Resources through the BioCurrents Research Center.
Protein Modules in Cytoskeletal and Signalling Molecules
The functional plasticity of protein modules is of enormous cell biological relevance and covers a broad spectrum of fields both closely and more distantly related to cell biology. The field embraces both structural and cell biological approaches, but is also highly relevant for the establishment of precise annotation catalogs of genomic data and is thus of interest for the emerging field of “in silico cell biology”.
The recent progress in protein research, made possible by the developments in structural, molecular and cell biology over the past five years, has demonstrated that proteins use a set of modules, copies of which can be found in sometimes diverse and seemingly unrelated molecules to perform specific cellular functions. However, despite sometimes striking structural conservation, the in vivo functions for certain protein modules can differ quite dramatically and in some cases result from only subtle amino acid substitutions. It thus appears that a significant number of proteins (and functions) has been generated through evolution by creatively using variations of established building blocks and by combining such functional modules at differing positions and varying copy number to create functional diversity. The purpose of this session is to bring together and unify the different ideas and approaches currently employed to study the structure/function relationship of protein motifs (or modules) to enhance the generation of new and refined concepts and working models. We will focus on protein modules present in both cytoskeletal and signaling molecules. To date a minimum of eleven individual, structurally unrelated, functionally thoroughly investigated (and in some cases crystalized) protein modules are shared between these two protein families. These include domains implicated in cytoskeletal association, phospholipid binding, polyProline recognition, membrane targeting, Ca2+-regulation or GTPase activation.
Proteomics in Cell Biology
A combination of proteomic assay with cell biology analyses will shed light on understanding of protein-protein interaction networking in a variety of cellular processes.
Quantitative Network Biology of the EGF Receptor System
The EGF receptor probably is one of the most intensely studied receptor systems. For more than 20 years, computational models have been used to analyze EGF receptor dynamics and interpret mutational studies. They are now being used to understand even more complex processes including signal transduction, autocrine loops, and developmental patterning. This session will bring together experts who are examining different aspects of the EGF receptor system, such as ligand production, intracellular trafficking, and signal transduction and who are using a variety of different approaches, such as cell engineering, image analysis, and site-directed mutagenesis. How to integrate a wide diversity of both quantitative and qualitative data into a higher-order understanding of overall system behaviour will be a major focus of discussion, particularly with regard to information processing by cells. The EGF receptor could serve as an excellent example of how models and experiments can be combined productively to understand complex biological processes.
The Spindle Matrix: Herring or Harbinger?
Spindle bipolarity underlies accurate transmission of chromosomes at cell division. Spindle bipolarity across species requires the activity of kinesins in the BimC family; spindles are monopolar in BimC deficient mutants rather than bipolar. Concomitant loss of Kar3 kinesin function restores spindle bipolarity. Translocation of the motor domains of BimC and Kar3 kinesins toward the plus and minus ends of microtubules, respectively, suggested that spindle bipolarity could be explained by application of antagonistic motive forces to spindle microtubules. Recent work showed that the BimC kinesin Eg5 remains statically positioned in spindles as microtubules flux poleward, as if tethered to an immobile spindle matrix rather than to dynamic spindle microtubules. The very existence, let alone functional significance, of a spindle matrix is controversial as is the concept of interactions between BimC kinesins and nonmicrotubule binding partners. Identification and genetic analysis of spindle matrix candidates like skeletor in Drosophila affords a means to dissect the spindle matrix and its role in spindle bipolarity. This session will reexamine evidence for a spindle matrix and its function in spindle organization.
Systems Biology and the Cell: Are There Simple Rules Governing Complexity?
Cell biologists have long been concerned with defining relationships between cell structure and function. As the world of genomics allows rapid molecular identification of protein assemblies, the prospect of dissecting higher order protein machines and obtaining quantitative information about their mechanics has improved. In this session, the question of what types of simple rules might operate in subcellular systems, what is the minimal information required to create predictive models, and some of the systems in which such modeling might produce immediate and valuable information will be discussed. One goal of the session is to juxtapose talks describing complex networks involved in different aspects of cellular behavior to identify similarities, and to discuss how to extract (reverse engineer?) simple rules from complex datasets derived from biological processes.
Use of RNAi and Other Expression Inhibition Methods in Vertebrate Cell Biology
The ability to target individual genes with RNAi and related methods is revolutionizing the study of eukaryotic gene function. Although much of the work on understanding and using RNAi has come from genetic systems in which there exists the means to readily construct and identify mutations, the real power of the technique will be in systems that do not have such means. For the first time it is possible to reduce or eliminate the expression of particular proteins of interest in vertebrate cells, without having to go through the very laborious construction of deletion mutations. We are only just beginning to understand the important parameters for the use of this technique in vertebrate cells. This session will focus on recent methodological advances, such as expression of RNA hairpins, in vitro creation of small interfering RNAs from larger transcripts in vitro, and on interesting uses of the technique, such as targeting multigene families, and large scale screening.
|Members In The News|
James Rothman of the Sloan-Kettering Institute, an ASCB member since 1982, and Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, an ASCB member since 1984 and President in 1999, received the 2002 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.
Sarah Elgin of Washington University, an ASCB member since 1974 and co-Editor-in-Chief of Cell Biology Education, Elizabeth Jones of Carnegie Mellon University, an ASCB member since 1983, and Tim Stearns of Stanford University, an ASCB member since 1994, were among 20 scientists dedicated to undergraduate science teaching to be named the first Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professors.
Roger Davis of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, an ASCB member since 1992, was elected to the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.
Joan Steitz of Yale University, an ASCB member since 1983, received the 2002 Lewis S. Rosentiel Award from Brandeis University.
David Botstein of Stanford University, an ASCB member since 1985 and founding Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Biology of the Cell, will become the Director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University.
John B. Lowe of the University of Michigan Medical School, an ASCB member since 1986, was elected a 2002 fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
H. Robert Horvitz of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an ASCB member since 1988, received the 2001 Genetics Society of America Award.
Purnell Choppin, HHMI President Emeritus and an ASCB member since 1972, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from The Johns Hopkins University at its 2002 commencement.
Pamela Bjorkman of the California Institute of Technology, an ASCB member since 1994, and Judith Kimble of the University of WisconsinMadison, an ASCB member since 1991, were elected to the American Philosophical Society.
Cornelia Bargmann of the University of California, San Francisco, an ASCB member since 1995, was elected to the fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Joan Massagué of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, an ASCB member since 1997 and the 2000 ASCB Porter Lecturer, received the 2002 Howard Taylor Ricketts Award from the University of Chicago.
Richard P. Lifton of the Yale University School of Medicine, an ASCB member since 1998, received the 2002 Richard Bright Award from the American Society of Hypertension.
Elaine Fuchs of the Rockefeller University , an ASCB member since 1980 and President in 2001, and Gerald Rubin of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, an ASCB member since 1990, were named “Biotech Geniuses to Watch” by Discover magazine.
The Education Committee would like to highlight undergraduate science at the ASCB Annual Meeting in December and to provide a time when students can network with other undergraduates who are authors on posters at the meeting. These undergraduate students are invited to meet in Room 252 of the Moscone Convention Center on Saturday, December 14 at 5:30 pm immediately following the Student Program and MAC Mentoring Symposium.
|Collins, Cravatt to Receive ASCB-Promega Award|
Kathleen Collins of the University of California, Berkeley, and Benjamin Cravatt of the Scripps Research Institute will receive the fourth annual ASCB-Promega Award for Early Career Life Scientists at the ASCB Annual Meeting in December.
Collins’ research has focused on ribonucleoprotein (RNP) reverse transcriptase telomerase. She is studying telomerase both in vitro, to elucidate the novel structure and biochemical mechanisms of this unique reverse transcriptase, and in vivo, to investigate telomerase function and regulation in the cell.
Cravatt is being recognized for his research with fatty acid amides in cellular and organismal biology. Fatty acid amides, a family of chemical messengers, have been shown to affect many physiological functions, including sleep, thermoregulation, pain sensitivity, and angiogenesis.
The Award lectures will be presented on Tuesday, December 17.
|Free CV Posting on New Job Board|
ASCB members may post their CV on the new ASCB Job Board. The Board has enjoyed heavy traffic by prospective employers since its launch last summer. Posting is an exclusive privilege of ASCB membership.
The Job Board provides a searchable database for jobs and employee recruitment. The year-round service provides job seeker profiles and CVs. The Board also provides employer profiles, recruiter profiles and job listings. Members or non-members may search and view listings for free.
A Job Board listing of 200 words costs employers $200 for a three-month period; it may be extended for three months at no additional cost.
|Recommendations of the National Research Council’s Committee on Science, Engineering & Public Policy (COSEPUP) on Enhancing the Post-Doctoral Experience|
Award institutional recognition, status, and compensation commensurate with the contributions of postdocs to the research enterprise.
The ASCB is grateful to the following members who have recently given gifts to support Society activities:
|Grants & Opportunities|
NSF Planning and Research Grants. Frontiers in Integrative Biological Research (FBIRE) program. Preliminary Proposals due November 1. Planning grant proposals due November 12.
Royal Society. The Royal Society invites nominations for a new award in honor of Rosalind Franklin, who discovered and proved the double helical structure of DNA by X-ray crystallography.
2003 Cooperative Grants Program. The U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), invites teams of U.S. and former Soviet Union (FSU) scientists and engineers to apply for oneto twoyear grants.
Biology Lecturer. Instructional responsibilities will include undergraduate teaching in introductory biology, genetics, and possibly pharmacology, biochemistry, and/or microbiology, depending on the qualifications of the candidate. Ph.D. in biology or related field and teaching experience required. This career position has the potential for security of employment, subject to UC policy. Salary will be commensurate with credentials. Application review process will start October 15, 2002, but applications will be accepted until position is filled. Candidates should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, statement of teaching interests and philosophy, and the names of three references to: Chair, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106. An EO/AA Employer.