The “Membrane Protein Folding” meeting, organized jointly by the Biophysical Society and the Korean Institute for Advanced Studies, held in Seoul mid-May, provided a vibrant stage for membrane protein folding scientists to exchange ideas and hold stimulating discussions. Scientists from all corners of the world were gathered together to provide a great mix of science, age and culture.
This was the first meeting to gather such a critical mass of scientists with shared interests into how membrane proteins attain their native fold. Ten sessions distributed over four days covered the current state-of-the-art on the fundamentals of membrane protein folding to disease related misfolding. The opening session on “Membrane Protein Folding in the Cell” immediately hit all the right notes, building bridges between biologists and biophysicists. From there, topics covered recent progress on which biophysical forces contribute to stabilizing the native membrane protein fold and how lipid membranes, detergents or surfactants influence the conformational space these important proteins sample. Finally, it was shown how these new insights are exploited for structure prediction and novel design of membrane proteins. Structural, biochemical and biophysical experimentation was presented side-by-side with molecular dynamics simulations, providing a wide range of approaches to investigate this complex biological process.
Discussions continued until late into the night with rooftop views over the Seoul skyline in the background. Young and experienced researchers mixed effortlessly exchanging thoughts, ideas and experiences.
The meeting was officially closed with a sumptuous banquet and everyone had the opportunity to practice their vocals during the karaoke evening that followed.
With the area developing fast, this meeting really filled the gap to bring this growing community together. The enormous progress showcased, is an omen for the many great years to come.
-Gerard Huysmans, postdoctoral fellow, Pasteur Institute, France and a speaker at the Membrane Protein Folding Thematic Meeting