Special Issue Protein Structure and Proteomics - Introduction

18th International MPSA Meeting, Uppsala: Highlights and Scientific Contribution

Lisa M. Miller Jenkins(1), Jan Johansson(2), and Ettore Appella(1).

(1.) Laboratory of Cell Biology, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA (2). KI-Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, NVS Department, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (numbers online).

The International Methods in Protein Structure Analysis (MPSA) conferences began in Boston in 1974 as a small workshop centered on new techniques of sequencing peptides by sequential N-terminal degradation (Edman sequencing). Since then, the meetings have been held biennially and have evolved into a forum for scientists with interests in protein chemistry, structural biology, and proteomics to exchange ideas and consider new approaches.

Over the years, the meeting site has alternated between the United States, Europe, and Japan. In August 2010, the 18th conference was held in Uppsala, Sweden. This MPSA conference, like those before it, featured invited seminars on proteomics and biomarker research, protein chemistry, and protein structures. Dr. Tony Hunter, of the Salk Institute, gave the opening keynote lecture on phosphoproteins in the DNA damage response; Dr. Judith Klinman, of the University of California, Berkeley, gave the closing lecture on a new model for enzyme catalysis. One of the featured themes of the meeting was protein folding and misfolding in development and disease. Participants involved in amyloid folding, fibril formation, the structure-activity relationship of amyloid, and amyloid in diseases presented seminars or posters related to their research. Additionally, Professors Per and Gunilla Westermark were awarded the Pehr Edman Prize, instituted in 1988, in recognition of their achievements in the amyloid field. This specific theme exemplified the current goal of the MPSA conferences, combining protein chemistry and structure with cell and developmental biology to spark creative thinking in both areas.

For the first time, the MPSA meeting was preceded by an EMBO Practical Course in the Analysis of Post-Translational Modifications. This course brought 11 speakers from the United States and Europe together with 24 selected students to teach methods for the identification and functional analysis of protein post-translational modifications (see photo below of course participants and lecturers). For three days, the students and speakers interacted during both seminars and mealtimes, discussing the lecture topics with enthusiasm. The speakers gave 1-2 lectures each during the course, and the students each presented a poster on their own research. The lectures included talks on sample preparation, methods for quantitative proteomics, modification-specific methods, and a thorough demonstration of the interpretation of ETD spectra. The students were a diverse group, originating from 14 different countries. All were early in their science careers and had a demonstrable interest in mass spectrometry and/or studying post-translational modification. The course was successful both in teaching new information and in fostering new connections between young scientists and those more advanced in their careers.

In this Special Issue, we highlight some of the outstanding research presented at the MPSA meeting. The outstanding research presented at the 2010 meeting has justified expansion from a short minireview series, as was done for previous conferences, to a full Special Issue of FEBS Journal. The articles are indicative of the wide breadth of science that is discussed at MPSA meetings, but also emphasize amyloid research as a topic that marries clinically important phenomena with biochemical and protein chemistry methods. The minireviews collected here describe new methods in proteomics research, protein chemistry and enzymology, protein (mis)folding, and peptides in the immune system. Hopefully, the research presented will inspire you to use novel approaches to unravel some of the many unanswered questions in biological and biochemical research.

Lecturers and participants in the EMBO Practical Course

Legend: Lecturers and participants in the EMBO Practical Course on Post-Translational Modifications.

Lecturers: Ettore Appella, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA (not pictured); David Creasy, Matrix Sciences Ltd, UK (not pictured); Jay Fox, University of Virginia, USA; Kris Gevaert, University of Ghent, Belgium; Donald Hunt, University of Virginia, USA (not pictured); Lisa Jenkins, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA (not pictured); Jan Johansson, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden (not pictured); Hans Jornvall, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden; Kathryn Lilley, Cambridge Center for Proteomics, UK; Claire O’Donovan, EMBO-European Bioinformatics Institute, UK (not pictured); Giuseppe Palmisano, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark; John Rogers, ThermoFisher Pierce, USA (not pictured); Nick Sherman, University of Virginia, USA; Yuqin Wang, Swansea University, UK (not pictured); Roman Zubarev, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden (not pictured).

Participants: Rocio Cejudo, Centro de Investigacion Principe Felipe, Spain; Claudia Corbo, CEINGE Biotechnologie Avanzate, Italy; Janusz Debski, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Science, Poland; Maria Fedorova, University of Leipzig, Germany; Gabriela Flores-Ramirez, Institute of Virology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia; Murat Gainullin, University of Coimbra, Portugal; Helena Handrkova, Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, Czech Republic; Min Jia, Karolinska Instututet, Sweden; Joanna Karczewska, University of Gdansk and Medical University of Gdansk, Poland; Stefan Kernstock, University of Oslo, Norway; Niraj Kumar, Institute for Applied Microbiology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Austria; Tetyana Lukash, Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ukraine; Daniel Mariyappa, University of Dundee, UK; Priyanka Maurya, Institute of Virology, Slovak Academy of Science, Slovakia; Delina Montes-Sánchez, IIB, UNAM & INCan, SSA, Mexico; Johan Nilvebrant, KTH Biotechnology, Sweden; Angelo Palmese, Universita di Napoli Federico II, Italy; Nikolaos Parisis, University of Essex, UK; Cristian Piras, Proteotech, Italy; Ana Rodriguez-Pineiro, Universite de Vigo, Spain; Alessio Soggiu, University of Cagliari, Italy; Anna Sroka-Bartnicka, Centre of Molecular and Macromolecular Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland; Elena Cibrián Uhalte, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Germany; Torkild Visnes, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden