Monday, September 19, 2005

FEBS Course on Modular Protein Domains (Update)

The course finished some days ago and I just want to note down some of the interesting lectures. Nodalpoint has a discussion on blogging abut conferences. Should we talk about unpublished results presented in meetings ? Because it was such a small meeting with such an informal environment I will only mention work that was apparently finished.

Several talks were about domain specificity. How to define interaction specificity in the cell and what is the importance of domain specificity. For example, Cesareni talked about their work on the SH3 domains of S cerevisiae and how they have been using SPOT synthesis to discover the specificity and cross talk of the different domains. Sachdev Sidhu presented a study on PDZ domains of C elegans characterized by phage display. The study will give us a very large dataset of domain binding profiles and a look at the evolution of PDZ domains in C. elegans.

All this "simple" domain specificity has to be put into context if it is going to give us some biological insight. This issue was brought up by Rune Linding and Gary Bader, among others. We should add all possible information that is available in the species of interest and carefully combine them.

Rama Ranganathan gave a talk on the evolutionary constrains of a protein fold. The talked was centered on the PDZ domain but the methodology and concepts apply to any fold. He showed how one can use statistical coupling analysis to discover the positions in fold that are evolutionary correlated. This positions give us additional insight on the function of the fold.

Wendell A. Lim gave a fascinating talk on modular logic of cell signaling systems (buzzword: synthetic biology). His lab is working on modular allosteric protein gates and signaling rewiring. Most of what he talked about his from a recent review.