Clair Baldock, Rik Derynck, Harry C. Dietz, Reinhard Faessler, Daniel S. Greenspan, Matthias Hammerschmidt, Penny Handford, Boris Hinz, Thomas D. Mueller, Tomoyuki Nakamura, Edgar M. Pera, Francesco Ramirez, Daniel Rifkin (organiser), Lynn Y. Sakai, Dean Sheppard, Pascal Thérond, Ellen Van Obberghen-Schilling, Harlad Von Melchner.
by Dan Rifkin
4 – 10 October, 2010
From October 4th to October 9th a meeting was held on the topic “Extracellular Matrix as a Structural Mediator of Morphological and Homeostatic Information.” Eight years ago a meeting on a similar topic was convened and in the interim it has become clearer that the extracellular matrix (ECM) is a crucial modulator of growth factor action. This is especially true for the molecule transforming growth factor-ß (TGF-ß), whose activity is controlled, in part, by interaction with the matrix protein fibrillin-1. Defects in fibrillin-1 result in increased TGF-ß activity and are the cause of the connective tissue disease Marfan syndrome (MFS). Decreasing the level of TGF-ß reverses several of the MFS phenotypes and has led to an exciting new treatment modality. Therefore, the current meeting focused on the interactions of TGF-ß and its family members with ECM components. Eighteen participants with expertise and viewpoints in various areas gathered to address the topic. The attendees included structural biologists, biochemists, human geneticists, developmental geneticists, and cells biologists with interests in structure-function, cell signaling, cell-matrix interactions, development, and translational research.