Cell News | Issue 04, 2015 - page 16

Cell News 4/2015
Workshop „Cell Biology of Viral Infections”
Kloster Schoental, September 30
– October 2
The 14
Annual Workshop on “Cell Biology of Virus Infection” or-
ganized by Dr. Steeve Boulant (Heidelberg) and Dr. Claudia Claus
(Leipzig) was conducted for a second time at the Kloster Schöntal
in Schöntal, Germany from September 30
–October 2
2015. The
theme of this year’s workshop was “Regulation of cell fate: Balance
between death and survival pathways”. The workshop was a great
success due to four amazing keynote speakers from Ireland and
Germany and the enthusiastic discussions by the participants. All
participants enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the social events,
which allowed for the establishment of new collaborations.
The workshop opened with the keynote lecture “Non-apoptotic
roles of killer caspases” given by Dr. Howard Fearnhead from the
National University of Ireland, Galway. Dr. Fearnhead is an expert
in caspases and although these proteins play a well-known role in
apoptosis, he explained to the participants their diverse activities
within the cell. He described that not only is the expression of cas-
pases important but also that the amount of caspase produced will
drastically change the cellular outcome. For example, low levels of
cas3 will lead to Ras-GAP cleavage and cells will survive, whereas
high cas3 levels cause complete protein cleavage within the cell
leading to cell death. Interestingly, some of the effects of cas3 can
be transient but can cause altered gene expression due to stimula-
tion of a DNA damage response leading to chromatin remodeling.
These DNA changes can be important for cell differentiation or cell
The second day of the workshop began with
Prof. Dr. Seamus Martin’s lecture “Cell Death
and Inflammation”. Dr. Martin is the chair of
Molecular Genetics at Trinity College in Dub-
lin Ireland. Dr. Martin is a reference in the
field of cell death and has been a pioneer in
the field by introducing annexin-V labeling,
the gold standard for measuring apopotosis.
His contributions to the field have been cited
over 22,000 times. Dr. Martin gave the par-
ticipants a full overview of the three main
types of cell death: programmed (apopto-
sis), necrosis and necroptosis. He described
the current dogma on how each type of cell
death is related to inflammation and then
showed current research from his lab that
questions the current view. His talk was filled
with many humorous examples as a reminder
that you need to be careful of how you look/
interpret your data.
The second day concluded with Prof. Dr. Elke Pogge-von
Strandmann’s lecture on “Formation and role of exosomes in can-
cer”. She discussed the ongoing work in her lab, which focuses on
the methods that NK cells use to identify and eliminate tumor cells.
They have found that BAG6 regulates NK cell activity and is res-
ponsible for NK cell activation by exosomes. These BAG6 exosomes
have RIG-I stimulation properties and are able to inhibit tumor
growth in vivo. This work is now being used to develop NK cell-
based therapies for cancer patients.
Prof. Dr. Simone Fulda gave the final keynote on “Novel opportuni-
ties for therapeutic exploitation of cell death pathways in cancer”.
Prof. Fulda is the Director of the Institute for Experimental Cancer
Research in Pediatrics at the J.W. Goethe University Hospital in
Frankfurt. She discussed that one of the major challenges in onco-
logy is the resistance of cancer cells to apoptosis. In her lab they
are investigating small molecular mimetics to stimulate apoptosis
in cancer cells. They have found that if they use mimetics to SMAC,
a endogenous protein located on mitochondria known to promote
apoptosis, along with glucocorticoids they can induce apoptosis
selectively in their tumor cell models. This work is very exciting and
brings about new therapies for oncology.
The workshop was happy to have 36 participants from Germany,
Sweden, and France. The students and post-docs also gave great
lectures on virus entry, virus induced signaling and apoptosis, and
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