Click on the Member-Organized Special Interest Subgroup titles below to view a full description of each Subgroup including a list of session organizers.
Organizers: Stephanie Weber, McGill University, Jared Schrader, Wayne State University, and Lisa Racki, The Scripps Research Institute
Despite their small size and lack of traditional membrane-bound organelles, bacteria are not mere “bags of enzymes.” Over the past two decades, advances in light and electron microscopy have revealed a diverse array of subcellular structures that bacteria use to organize molecules in both space and time. For example, bacterial microcompartments sequester metabolic enzymes inside polyhedral protein shells, and storage granules accumulate excess nutrients into spherical aggregates of long-chain polymers. In addition to these discrete organelle-like structures, chromosomal loci and RNA transcripts are positioned at specific subcellular locations. Bacteria also contain cytoskeletal filaments and biomolecular condensates. This subgroup will highlight recent progress in identifying the mechanisms by which bacteria establish and dynamically regulate intracellular organization. Talks will also feature new developments in quantitative imaging, synthetic biology and biophysical modeling, which promise to uncover how cell organization impacts cell function.
Organizers: Mustafa Aydogan, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, UK; Mohammad Mofatteh, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, UK; and Qiong Yang, University of Michigan
This special interest subgroup intends to bring together a large variety of group leaders (at different stages of their careers) who work on biological clocks and timers from the perspectives of cell biology, biophysics, biochemistry, structural biology or mathematics. The topics will include timing mechanisms from all scales of biology, such as machineries that control the cell cycle, circadian rhythms, body segmentation or a newly emerging phenomenon, that is, autonomous clocks, such as metabolism cycles or the oscillations that control organelle biogenesis.
Organizers: Daniel Fletcher, University of California, Berkeley; Matthew Good, University of Pennsylvania; and Laurent Blanchoin, Grenoble at the CEA, France
In vitro reconstitution of biological processes from their component molecular parts has emerged as a powerful and broadly useful tool in cell biology. Building on its roots in biochemical reconstitution of enzyme activity, cellular reconstitution has been used in recent studies to show that cell-like structures with micron-scale organization can be assembled from nanometer-scale parts by combining purified proteins and cytoplasmic extracts with cell-like boundary conditions. By identifying the necessary and sufficient conditions for assembly, these ‘bottom-up’ studies provide new mechanistic insight that complements more traditional ‘top-down’ cell biology. Rapid progress in micropatterning, microfluidics, and microfabrication, coupled with continued advancements in biochemistry and molecular biology, raise the possibility of creating more complete cellular reconstitutions that may one day rival the complexity of live cells. This session will feature a selection of the most ambitious and cutting-edge examples of cellular reconstitution. To keep the session accessible to both cell biologists and physical scientists, we will ask speakers to (i) summarize the biological question that motivated reconstitution, (ii) outline the steps of the reconstitution method used, (iii) distill the major insights obtained from reconstitution, and (iv) comment on the technology needs and ultimate goals for bottom-up cell biology.
Organizers: William Hancock. Penn State University; and Weihong Qiu, Oregon State University
The microtubule cytoskeleton plays central roles in cell division, intracellular transport, and cell migration. Accurate execution of these processes critically depends on proper regulation of both the dynamics of the microtubule cytoskeleton and the action of molecular motors. Motor-mediated transport is inherently regulated by the organization of the microtubule cytoskeleton; in turn, molecular motors have been shown to actively regulate microtubule dynamics. Understanding these interactions requires a multidisciplinary approach that integrates in vivo cell biology, in vitro reconstitution experiments and in silico modeling. This session will bring together cell biologists and biophysicists to present recent work aimed at revealing the mechanisms underlying the complex interactions between motors and microtubules. It will focus on in vitro reconstitution experiments and in silico modeling, which leverage high-resolution optical microscopy approaches, and building quantitative models to systematically analyze specific molecular players. Importantly, these experiments and modeling will serve to bridge the gap between reductionist single-molecule studies and more complex cell-based studies. The session will build on a subgroup chaired by the co-organizers at the 2017 ASCB meeting, which was well received and resulted in an Invited Perspective in MBoC. We anticipate that this session will provide a timely update on these topics that emerged over the last two years.
Organizer: Susanne Rafelski, The Allen Institute
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 three-dimensional structures found within the cell specified by a one-dimensional genome? In this session we will explore the mechanisms by which cellular structures are determined and regulated. Because this question lies at the interface of biology and physics, this Building the Cell session will be highly interdisciplinary with speakers whose interests range from physics and mathematical modeling to biochemistry and cell biology. The Building the Cell subgroup was started by Wallace Marshall at the 2001 ASCB annual meeting and this will be it’s 16th year.
Organizers: Carsten Hansen, University of Edinburgh; and Joe Boerckel, University of Pennsylvania
The Hippo pathway is a highly dynamic cellular signaling nexus, integrating mechanotransduction, cell polarity, inflammation, and numerous types of paracrine signaling. The Hippo pathway plays central roles in multiple cell types and regulates regeneration, metabolism, homoestasis and development. If not tightly regulated, dysregulated Hippo pathway signaling drives the onset and progression of a range of diseases, including fibrosis and cancer. The molecular understanding of the Hippo pathway is rapidly evolving through the use of advanced cell biology techniques and bioengineering approaches. This meeting will bring together leading and upcoming scholars in this fast paced, interdisciplinary research field, and thereby create opportunities for future collaborations. The proposed format will be 6x15 minute talks, with additional 5 minutes for questions. An additional 10 flash talks (3 minutes + 1 question) will be selected from abstracts submitted. These flash talks will be used to guarantee that early career researchers get a chance to present their work. These flash talks will furthermore ensure increased attention to selected posters at the ASCB meeting.
Organizers: Nicholas Geisse, NanoSurface Biomedical, Inc.; Bojana Gligorijevic, Temple University; Deok-Ho Kim, University of Washington; and Ryan Petrie, Drexel University
Understanding how the structurally complex, three-dimensional environment within an organism impacts cell function is an exciting challenge facing the cell biology research community. Studies over the last few years have provided dramatic examples of how the extracellular matrix and confinement can influence essential aspects of cell behavior, particularly cell migration (Gligorijevic and colleagues Biophys J. 2018), stem cell differentiation (Blau and colleagues Science 2010), and intracellular force generation (Petrie and colleagues Science 2014) in normal and malignant cells. Importantly, the growing interest in this research area has not been previously reflected in minisymposia at the annual meeting. This special interest subgroup will fill this niche by providing a forum in which to present the most recent advances in understanding the role of matrix architecture in cell dynamics. This topic will cover a wide variety of sub-disciplines. It will also be of immediate interest to those just beginning to consider the role of the matrix structure in their own research. We will review submitted abstracts with a special focus on including student or post-doc members
Organizers: Jordan Beach, Loyola University Chicago; and Dorothy Lerit, Emory University
Symmetry breaking events are intrinsic to cellular form and function. How cells generate and propagate asymmetries at the molecular level to drive cell and tissue function is a fundamental biological problem that spans dimensions and scales. Symmetry breaking requires many aspects of cell biology, including decision making, spatiotemporal organization, feedback signaling networks, and cellular mechanics. These processes result in a diverse array of cellular responses, which include directed cell migration, asymmetric division, neurite outgrowth, ciliogenesis, and tissue morphogenesis. This session will address common and divergent principles underlying cellular symmetry breaking with an emphasis on how such events contribute to normal cell functions and developmental processes. Here, we feature speakers presenting emergent insights (with an emphasis on unpublished work) to the underlying mechanisms from a broad spectrum of experimental model systems and approaches.
Organizers: Kara McKinley, University of California, San Francisco; and Andrew Ewald, Johns Hopkins University
Epithelia are sheets of polarized cells that providing a physical barrier between biological compartments as well as specialized functions including sensation, absorption, and secretion. The diversity of cell types within epithelial tissues, as well as the mechanical and signaling crosstalk between these cells, present a rich suite of cell biological questions. These questions have become increasingly accessible in recent years through technological developments including improved live imaging strategies and ex vivo models such as organoids. This session will focus on recent progress in understanding the mechanisms that drive and coordinate specialized cell behaviors in epithelial tissues. We hope to build on the great momentum regarding approaching tissue and stem cell biology with a cell biological lens from the Doorstep Meeting of the 2018 Annual Meeting.
Organizers: Kristen Verhey, University of Michigan; Volodya Gelfand, Northwestern University
Kinesins are a superfamily of mechanochemical enzymes that interact with microtubule filaments to drive numerous processes in eukaryotic cells including vesicle transport, cellular organization, spindle assembly, cell division, cilium assembly, and cell migration. The conventional view of kinesins is that they serve as transporters that use the energy of ATP hydrolysis to step towards the plus (non-centrosomal) ends of microtubules and carry vesicles and organelles to their subcellular destinations. However, kinesin motors have been found to display “unconventional” properties such as sliding microtubules, walking backwards, regulating microtubule dynamics, and even lacking motility. The adaptation of unconventional microtubule-based properties presumably arose through evolutionary changes to the core kinesin motor domain in order for kinesin motors to fulfill their specific cellular functions. In this subgroup, we will compare and contrast motor properties and functions across the kinesin superfamily and explore the question of what is conventional.
Guillaume Thibault, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; and Prasana Satpute-Krishnan, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Lipids and proteins are key drivers of critical biological functions in the secretory pathway and associated membrane-bound compartments such as lipid droplets, autophagosomes, endosomes and lysosomes. These functions include cell signaling, membrane remodeling, lipid and protein trafficking, protein quality control, secretion, autophagy and endocytosis. Perturbations in lipid or protein homeostasis can disrupt membrane dynamics across the compartments of the secretory pathway and lead to cellular stress. This subgroup will bring together researchers from the fields of lipid and protein biology to discuss molecular mechanisms underlying lipid and membrane protein homeostasis with an emphasis on cellular stress responses and protein quality control pathways that restore homeostasis.
Organizer: Kwonmoo Lee, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Jean-Chrisophe Olivo-Marin, Institut Pasteur, France; and Assaf Zaritsky, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Research at the interface of machine learning, statistics and bioimaging that involves data science, applied mathematics and physics is becoming one the frontiers topics in cellular and developmental biology, and is impacting dramatically life sciences research, by allowing a deeper understanding of biological mechanisms or deciphering complex individual or collective traits of living organism functioning. For example, deep learning has dramatically improved the analysis of single-molecule microscopy, phenotypic screening, neural structures and organism behaviour. Similarly, spatial statistical analysis has been used for the improved study of molecular assemblies or in spatial transcriptomics. This session will present recent advances and results at the forefront of this new interdisciplinary field of research, with the goal of empowering the cell biology community with this next generation of quantitative methods.
Organizer: Tony Huang, NYU School of Medicine
This Subgroup will explore cell biology topics related to DNA repair, replication stress, and genome integrity. The focus will be on mechanistic, cellular and organismal approaches to understand how DNA damage and/or replication problems influences cell cycle defects, genomic instability and tumorigenesis. Speakers will represent a diverse spectrum of scientific approaches, including biochemically-reconstituted systems, cell biology, super-resolution microscopy and computational biology, to study the nuclear dynamics of DNA repair and replication stress response proteins and how they interface at DNA damage sites and/or stalled replication forks. Talks will emphasize cutting-edge new technologies to address a cell biological problem, including single-molecule, live-cell imaging in yeast and human cells, systems biology and pathway networks, and translational applications of basic scientific findings.
Organizers: Sophie Dumont, University of California, San Francisco; Manu Prakash, Stanford University; and Alex Dunn, Stanford University
Large macromolecular machines power key cellular transformations and functions. These include cell shape changes, cell motility and cell division, to name a few. These machines are often so large, complex and dynamic that they cannot currently be reconstituted in vitro. How these machines can be at once flexible and dynamic and yet persistently generate and respond to force remains poorly understood. Here, we discuss emerging concepts and approaches to study the mechanics of these large machines inside cells, crossing a range of biological functions and of organisms.
Organizers: Christina Vizcarra, Barnard College; and Elena Grintsevich, California State University
By convention, regulators of the cytoskeleton are grouped into distinct classes based on their signature effects on cytoskeletal dynamics. In recent years, it has become clear that cytoskeletal remodeling is fine-tuned by multifactor interactions in a tissue-specific and/or developmentally regulated manner. Recent studies have uncovered complex, unexpected cross-talks among cytoskeletal regulators, slowly dissolving the borders of once well-defined classes. This special interest subgroup is focused on this emerging level of complexity of multifactor regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics. We will explore a wide range of aspects of such multifactor regulation spanning from mechanistic insights to potential significance on a cellular level.
Organizer: Mary Dasso, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH
Exchange of molecules between the cytoplasm and the nucleus occurs through conduits called nuclear pore complexes (NPCs), which consist of roughly 30 distinct proteins (nucleoporins). Beyond macromolecular trafficking, nucleoporins participate in the control of gene expression via interactions with the genome, as well as in chromatin maintenance and mitotic progression. Their roles in these diverse processes offer a rich variety of possible mechanisms for biological regulation and coordination amongst cellular functions. Recent findings have documented many developmental stage- or tissue-specific phenotypes that result from nucleoporin perturbation, consistent with complex roles that extend beyond simple housekeeping functions. Moreover, human diseases in which nucleoporin function is compromised show remarkably tissue-specific phenotypes, as in neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or in renal diseases like steroid-resistant nephrotic syndromes (SRNS). One of the major goals of the field has become to decipher the specific mechanisms and cellular processes that underlie nucleoporin-based developmental phenotypes and tissue-specific pathologies. This Special Interest Subgroup will bring together scientists who work in cell biological, genetic and clinical fields to discuss how nucleoporins, which are fundamental building blocks of nuclear cell biology, contribute toward tissue architecture and development.
Organizers: Xuebiao Yao, University of Science & Technology of China; and Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research Campus
The organization of the eukaryotic cell into discrete membrane-bound organelles allows for the separation of incompatible biochemical processes and dynamic interactions of these organelles orchestrate context-dependent cell physiology. The basic cell biology of how organelles contact and communicate is central to understanding metazoan development, the tissue homeostasis, and the cell plasticity control. However, despite our knowledge of the composition of organelle, the spatiotemporal organization of organelles within the cell and their context-dependent membrane contacts remain poorly characterized. Recent advancements in multiplex organelle imaging, emerging dynamics of membraneless organelle combined with model organoids from normal and diseased tissues enable us to delineate organelle dynamics underlying cell plasticity control. This session provides a unique forum to feature speakers from ASCB, CSCB, and EMBO to feature works addressing how membrane contact sites regulate organelle division, organelle trafficking on the cytoskeleton and lipid trafficking at membrane contact sites as well as how host-microbe interactions regulate membrane contact sites in cell physiology in organoids.
Organizers: Gulcin Pekkurnaz, University of California, San Diego; Uri Manor, The Salk Institute; and Erika Holzbaur, University of Pennsylvania
Subcellular organelles are dynamically regulated throughout the life of the cell, constantly changing their shape, position, and biochemical activities in response to physiological cues. The main driver of subcellular dynamics and forces is the cytoskeleton, which has the power to propel, reshape, and resize organelles with nanometer and millisecond precision. In the age of modern cell biology, our understanding of the interactions and cross-regulation of organelles and the cytoskeleton has reached a new level of sophistication. This special interest subgroup will explore the most exciting recent discoveries on how the cell uses the cytoskeleton to regulate a vast array of organelles ranging from the nucleus to mitochondria to cilia.
Organizers: Maxence Nachury, University of California, San Francisco; and Gaia Pigino, Max Planck Institute, Dresden, Germany
The special interest subgroup on cilia has been a highlight of the ASCB meeting for a large group of cilia researchers. The emerging importance of cilia in disease and development make this Subgroup a point of convergence for developmental biologists understanding the Hedgehog pathway and left-right axis patterning, for cell biologists interested in compartmentalized signal transduction and for biochemists working on microtubule motors. It will have speakers from the diverse fields that intersect with ciliary biology. This subgroup will serve as a melting pot that brings together a wide variety of researchers who may not otherwise get a chance to productively interact.
Organizers: Mark McNiven, Mayo Clinic, Alissa M. Weaver, Vanderbilt University; and Laura M. Machesky, The Beatson Institute, Glasgow
This subgroup will focus on understanding the important and widespread process of how tumor cells actively remodel the surrounding microenvironment through a combination of migration and matrix degradation during the metastatic process. The program will feature experts in protease biology, cytoskeletal dynamics, in situ live cell imaging, mouse and other genetic model systems, and human pathology to provide a state-of-the-art update on new findings and technologies to both understand and curtail metastatic disease.
Organizer: Huiwang Ai, University of Virginia; and Takanari Inoue, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Physical force must underlie many of the biological processes taking place in cells. There are increasing evidences of such an interplay in gene expression, cell differentiation, vesicular trafficking, as well as formation and maintenance of intracellular organizations. Cells are thus sensing and responding to physical forces exerted in a more active manner than previously thought. Changes in cellular responses to physical cues have been linked to diseases including cancers. Despite the significance in physiology and medicine, obtaining a “causal” relationship between physical elements and cellular functions have proven to be challenging, primarily due to a lack of techniques to generate and/or perturb physical force in a living-cell setting. To overcome this challenge, cutting-edge tools and devices that can manipulate physical force in cells at an experimenter’s will have recently emerged. This subgroup session specifically highlights these techniques, and discuss their great potential in unambiguously revealing a role of physical force in cell biology. Due to the focus on physics in cells, as well as multidisciplinary nature of the technology development, this subgroup session expects to attract scientists in diverse disciplines ranging from cell biology to nanotechnology, materials science, chemical biology, chemical and biomedical engineering, computational biology and synthetic biology.
Organizers: Dianne Cox, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Karine Gousset, California State University Fresno; Gal Haimovich, Weizmann Institute of Science; and Chiara Zurzolo, Pasteur Institute
TNTs, filopodia and other cellular protrusions, like cytonemes, have emerged as important subcellular structures in intercellular communication.
TNT-like protrusions can transport small molecules, proteins, RNA, viral particles, microbes and whole organelles and have potential roles in facilitating human disease. However, different types of TNT-like protrusions have been described and some of the major open questions are: What are the structural differences between each type of cellular protrusion? What are the mechanisms of TNT formation and transport of the different types of cargo? Do specific signaling pathways induce different sub-types of protrusions? What are the possible biomarkers for each subtype of protrusion? Are these differences crucial for their function(s) in health and disease?
The goal of this Special Interest Subgroup is to provide a platform to collate studies that investigate these various cellular protrusions. We propose to assemble group leaders that specialize in the study of TNTs and/or innovative techniques that will improve our understanding of these cellular protrusions and will shed light in key differences.
Organizers: Jonah Cool, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Richard Conroy, National Institutes of Health; Jim Galbraith, OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine; Catherine Galbraith, OHSU; and Sean Hanlon, National Institutes of Health,
Much of our knowledge of cells and how they function has been derived from observation. Emerging single-cell and in situ technologies are facilitating the characterization of normal and diseased human cells and tissues at unprecedented resolution. Visualization is the cornerstone of the scientific method because it allows us to conceptualize complicated mechanisms. However, the technical limitations of microscopy also set boundaries on how we think about cell structure and function – the limitations in visibility also limit the testability of our theories. Recent advances, including gene editing to label cellular components, super resolution light microscopy, and cryo EM, allow us to visualize the interior of the cell with greater fidelity. The challenge we face is to integrate the wealth of new and diverse information into new hypotheses. The collection of data from these new techniques offers the same potential for a paradigm shift as existed when cells were first visualized over 350 years ago. This subgroup will explore how new advanced approaches to labeling and imaging allows us to rethink how the cell functions, and what the implications are for the field of cell biology.
Organizer: Xiaolei Su, Yale University School of Medicine
Immune cells survey and defend our body against pathogen infection and cancer progression. Following receptor activation, serial intracellular changes occur including membrane deformation, cytoskeleton remodeling, organelle mobilization, and the induction of transcription programs. This subgroup will discuss the application of state-of-the-art microscopy techniques and sophisticated imaging assays to understand the molecular mechanism underlying immune cell activation. We aim to bring cell biologists, immunologists, and biophysicists together, seeking synergy in ideas and promoting collaborative projects.