Intense research efforts in the past decade have led to the discovery of the conserved families of chaperones which constitute the cellular system for folding and repair of proteins. They assist the de novo folding of proteins, prevent and reverse aggregation of misfolded proteins and allow their refolding, mediate protein translocation across membranes, and cooperate with proteases in protein degradation. Chaperones are thus fundamentally important for cellular processes and have considerable medical and biotechnological relevance. The fast moving field of chaperone research has entered a fascinating period in which basic molecular concepts of chaperone action are being established. It can be expected that the proposed conference will present many new results and, by bringing together scientists from traditionally separated disciplines including cell biology, genetics, biochemistry and biophysics, will be a major stimulus for the field. The conference addresses open issues regarding the mechanism and cellular functions of chaperones. One topic is the mechanistic dissection of chaperones, which is particularly revealing since high-resolution structures became available. A second topic addresses the roles of chaperones in folding reactions during the life span of proteins, from synthesis to degradation. A third topic addresses the misfolding and aggregation of proteins, which can cause amyloid and prion diseases. An intriguing recent development covered in the conference concerns the influence chaperones have on folding and aggregation states of such proteins.
European scientists are among the world-leading scientists in this fleld. To maintain this strong, position, it is of central interest to European researchers to continue the highly successful European conference series on "Biology of Molecular Chaperones" of the past by a new meeting with a different, more mechanistic and molecular angle. The previous series took place in alternating years with the Cold Spring Harbor Meeting on "Heat Shock Proteins and Molecular Chaperones" and the FASEB meeting on "Protein folding in the Cell", which focus on cell biology of chaperones (CSR) and protein folding in vivo and in vitro, including theoretical studies (FASEB). The proposed new conference fills a niche by its focus on the mutidisciplinary molecular analysis of chaperones.