Molecular mechanisms of infection and immunity

It’s not Greek to me!

Biochemical advances in a historically rich field

Mammals have evolved sophisticated, interlocking mechanisms to provide immunity against pathogens of all kinds. As a field, immunology is ancient: According to that always-accurate online encyclopedia, the ancient Greeks provided the first written description of bacterial immunity.

While that perhaps explains why immunology historically has seemed like so much Greek to many biochemists and molecular biologists, more recent history has seen tremendous advances in our understanding of the biochemical underpinnings of the immune system and the immune responses to pathogens. 

Cultural divides and language barriers are breaking down, with tremendous implications for health and disease. This 2015 ASBMB annual meeting theme will focus on some of these recent advances, bridging concepts from glycobiology to structural biology. For the biochemists and molecular biologists among us, the view from the Parthenon never has been better!

Glycobiology ininfection and immunity

One of the main classes of biomolecules, the glycans provide targets for both innate and adaptive immune responses and are key for engineering molecules for improved function and stability. The intersection between glycobiology, infection and immunity will be the focus of the first session. 

Antigen presentation and recognition in cellular immunity

T cells orchestrate one of the most intriguing and complex molecular-recognition phenomena in biology: the recognition of a foreign antigen bound and presented by a major histocompatibility complex protein. The second session will explore the biochemical and structural underpinnings of antigen presentation and subsequent recognition by T-cell receptors. 

Biochemistry and systems biology of host-pathogen interactions

The immune system and its response to infection involve responses on multiple levels. While reductionist approaches continue to yield enormous insight, systems-level investigations can connect the dots and provide new insight into global mechanisms. The third session will emphasize metabolomic, proteomic and network studies in infection and immunity.

Visualizing multicomponent structures in infection and immunity

In structural biology, while bigger may not always be better, bigger is always awesome. The fourth session will present the latest structural studies of large multicomponent complexes important in infection including not-so-irreducibly complex flagella, secretion systems and fibril structures. 
Brian Baker
Eric Sundberg
Organizers: Brian Baker, University of Notre Dame, and Eric Sundberg, University of Maryland School of Medicine