Endocytosis is the process whereby eukaryotic cells internalise components such as nutrients from the surface into the cell interior. However, in addition, endocytosis serves multiple key cellular functions such as response to growth factors and hormones, immune response and antigen presentation, neural transmission. Several forms of human diseases are associated with defects in cargo selection and transport. For example, inherited defects in receptors can cause hypercholesterolemia and heart diseases, and mutations in the genes encoding a number of the hydrolytic enzymes of the endocytic pathway cause severe lysosomal storage diseases. Furthermore, the endocytic pathway is an entry route for viruses, bacteria and other parasites that penetrate the cell interior upon phagocytosis and begin their cycle of infection. In the past few years, several important insights have been made into the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes. Nevertheless, our knowledge is fragmentary and we are far from having a precise understanding of how transport in the endocytic pathway is regulated. The aim of this conference is to present the latest advances in the field and discuss novel concepts and future research directions that can lead to a molecular understanding of the function of endocytosis.
The objectives of this conference are manifold: 1) To understand how proteins and lipids are correctly sorted within a specific membrane system, 2) to determine which vesicles transport which cargo and which machinery is responsible for vesicle formation, 3) how are assembled and pinch off at the cell surface, 4) what mechanisms are responsible for assembling all these machineries into larger protein- lipid complexes and finally form an entire endocytic organelle (or endosome), 5) how many distinct cellular organelles , compose the endocytic pathway, which are their sub-compartments and what is their specific task, 6) elucidating the mechanisms of entry of viruses and other pathogens and how they induce phagocytosis in different cell types and, finally, 7) exploring the role of the endocytic pathway during cell differentiation, tissue formation and morphogenesis in embryonic development.
The conference, which belongs to a successful series entitled "Membrane dynamics in endocytosis" is an ideal forum for the presentation of innovative results and state-of-the-art experimental systems and methodologies and has greatly contributed to the advancement of biological sciences in Europe. These meetings have therefore become an essential appointment for a number of scientists in Europe. But in addition to this, they have become one of the most important conferences in molecular and cell biology worldwide and are key events that match and even surpass the high quality of the famous American Gordon Conferences.