Newswise — Brain development, function, and degeneration are the central themes for the ASCB 2017 Doorstep Meeting, to be held Saturday, December 2, in Philadelphia. The second annual Doorstep Meeting hosts a lineup of researchers whose investigations of protein folding and intracellular trafficking have yielded insights into neurodegenerative diseases as well as researchers whose studies of brain development and brain disease have uncovered a central role for critical cell biological processes. Along with the talks, two, hour-long poster sessions will be held during the morning and afternoon breaks of the meeting.

Below is a list of speakers, their talk title, and a brief summary of the subject matter they plan to discuss.

Development and Reprogramming of Neuronal Diversity in the Neocortex Paola Arlotta, Harvard University

Arlotta will discuss the governing principles underlying developmental generation and postnatal maintenance of excitatory pyramidal neuron diversity in the cerebral cortex.

Saving the Synapse: MHC Class I and Synapse Pruning during Development and in Alzheimer’s Disease Carla Shatz, Stanford Bio-X, Stanford University

The Shatz lab has determined that changes in the function of a certain class of molecules could contribute to developmental disorders, such as those found in schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Gene Silencing Therapy for Neurodegenerative Disease Don Cleveland, Ludwig Institute, University of California, San Diego

Cleveland will discuss how the combination of efforts using gene silencing with designer DNA drugs, adenoviral associated gene vectors, and genome editing mediated by site-specific nucleases could raise the possibility of development of effective disease-modifying therapies.

Dysfunction of Protein Translation in Neurodegeneration Susan Ackerman, University of California, San Diego/HHMI

Ackerman has identified new mechanisms of neurodegeneration and has demonstrated that dysfunction of protein translation greatly impacts neuronal homeostasis in the aging mammalian brain.

Dynamic RNA-Protein Assemblies in Neurological Disease J. Paul Taylor, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/HHMI

Mutations in several RNA-binding proteins (RBP) are linked to degenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia, and inclusion body myopathy. The Taylor lab hypothesizes that a disturbance of phase transitions that alters the dynamic properties of membrane-less organelles could be the underlying reason for these diseases.

Autophagy Dynamics in Neuronal Homeostasis and Neurodegeneration Erika Holzbaur, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Holzbaur’s talk will feature live cell imaging of neurons that reveals a dynamic pathway that is altered in both aging and diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and ALS.

Chaperone Functions in Protein Quality Control and Implications in Neurodegenerative Disease F. Ulrich Hartl, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry

Hartl will discuss recent findings from model systems suggesting that toxic protein aggregation in neurodegenerative disease is both a symptom and a cause of proteostasis decline leading to protein misfolding-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s.

Neuronal Mitostasis and Parkinson’s Disease Thomas L. Schwarz, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

This presentation will review what is known about the synthesis and degradation of mitochondria in the special context of neuronal architecture and the problems posed by having mitochondria up to a meter away from the nuclear DNA encoding their proteins.

The Cell Biology of Protein Misfolding in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases Dennis Selkoe, Harvard Medical School/Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Selkoe will talk about recent work in his lab that has implications for the initiation of diseases such as Parkinson’s and suggests potential disease prevention by compounds that stabilize physiological α-synuclein tetramers.