CBR Labs Attend the 10th General Meeting of the International Proteolysis Society

By Dr. Georgina Butler, Research Associate, Overall Lab

Proteases are an important class of enzymes that cut every protein in the body at some point in its lifetime – be it for maturation of new proteins, degradation of unwanted proteins, and for precise trimming and regulation. Proteases are key for homeostasis — in fact hemostatic processes such as coagulation and fibrinolysis depend on them — and proteases are implicated in many diseases, including hemophilia, cancer, and arthritis. Accordingly, humans have over 560 proteases and 160 protease inhibitors, and these are linked in complex interdependent networks.

Overall Lab

This fall, the Overall and Bromme labs attended the 10th General Meeting of the International Proteolysis Society. In previous years, this biennial get-together of 200 protease researchers has been held in such exotic climes as South Africa and Malaysia. This year, the meeting, organised by Prof. Chris Overall (CBR), Dr. Joanne Lemieux (U. Alberta), and Dr. Jean-Bernard Denault (U. Sherbrooke), was held at the Banff Centre in Canada (28 Oct-2 Nov 2017). One of the great things about these meetings is that they are preceded by training workshops, where experts in the protease field mentor aspiring young scientists – in this case, workshops held at the University of Calgary were Hands-on Practical Enzyme Kinetics, A Beginners Guide to Imaging Peptidases in Cells and Tissues, and TAILS Proteomic Substrate Discovery: Data Analysis (run by CBR’s own Chris Overall, PDF Dr. Nestor Solis, and former PDFs Dr. Ulrich auf dem Keller and Dr. Oliver Schilling). A large number of travel awards are also presented to trainees.

Talks addressed a variety of topics including protease structure, with elegant structures describing the snap-trap mechanism of a serpin (Dr. F.X. Gomis-Ruth, Barcelona, Spain) and of angiotensin-converting enzyme dimerization (Dr. E. Sturrock, Cape Town, South Africa), with a large focus on development of tools for studying protease function and for protease inhibitors (e.g., fluorescent probes for imaging serine proteases in neutrophils (Dr. P. Kasperkiewicz, Sanford-Burnham, USA), design of PCSK9 antagonists (Dr. Daniel Kirchhofer, Genentech, USA), inhibitory mechanism of a cathepsin K inhibitor (Dr. Simon Law, CBR, Canada), and engineering enhanced FIX variants (Dr. G. Blouse, Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark)).

Highlights of the meeting included fireside line dancing and BBQ on the first evening (which somehow incorporated a conga), an impromptu snowball fight, and a fun Halloween poster session, where barriers between experts and novices were broken down when it was impossible to determine who you were talking to!Proteolysis society meeting

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