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Scientific Report: “Frontiers in Lipid Biology”

The 53rd International Conference on the Biosciences of Lipids (ICBL), entitled “Frontiers in Lipid Biology”, was held from Sept. 4-9, 2012, in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The ICBL conference is organized annually at different locations around the world as a forum for presentation and discussion of recent discoveries in lipid research. This year’s meeting was, for the first time, held in Canada in Banff National Park in the heart of the beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains. An unusual feature of the 53rd ICBL was that it was a joint meeting of three wellestablished organizations: the ICBL, the 37th Canadian Lipoprotein Conference (CLC) and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) who provided exceptional administrative assistance for the meeting. The organizing committee members were from Canada (Dennis Vance, Jean Vance, Richard Lehner, Rene Jacobs, Dawei Zhang, Spencer Proctor, Donna Vine, Simonetta Sipione), the United States (William Dowhan) and Austria (Fritz Spener). As a reflection of the increasingly international nature of lipid research, ~300 scientists and accompanying persons from 25 different countries in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia attended with many participants from Canada, USA, Brazil and Japan.

The meeting was held at the Banff Centre for the Arts on Tunnel Mountain overlooking the town of Banff with panoramic views of the spectacular Rocky Mountains. The Banff Centre is a globally respected arts, cultural and educational institution established in 1933 by the University of Alberta with financial support from the Carnegie
Foundation; the mission of the Banff Centre is “Inspiring Creativity”. The Centre’s Summer School is the major summer school for the arts in Canada and offers programs in the performing and fine arts. A premier event at the Centre is the renowned week-long Banff International String Quartet Competition that is held every 3 years. Another popular event is the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival. The Banff Centre features an outstanding conference centre, site of the Frontiers in Lipid Biology meeting. Accommodation and meals were provided on site as well as recreational facilities including a fine swimming pool and exercise facilities. All lectures were given in the Max Bell Hall adjacent to venues for coffee breaks, lunches and poster sessions. The Banff Centre is a 10 min walk from the town of Banff where many trendy shops and restaurants invite those wishing to partake.

The conference opened with introductory remarks by Dennis Vance (University of Alberta) who is a member of all three participating organizations and was primary organizer of the meeting. The scientific program consisted of 7 sessions each of which included plenary talks by invited speakers selected on the basis of both their outstanding research and their ability to present a clear and stimulating talk; a total of 20 internationally recognized scientists were invited to give these plenary talks. In addition, 12 shorter talks on late-breaking research were presented. An important feature of the conference was the emphasis placed on presentation and discussion of research of young investigators and trainees (graduate students/postdoctoral fellows). Each of the organizing societies is known for actively promoting trainee participation. An international committee selected 26 short talks on the basis of abstracts submitted by trainees. In addition, all scientists had ample opportunity for highlighting their research in three poster sessions; each poster was available for viewing for 3 h. The first day ended with a reception at which old friendships were renewed and new connections established.

Session #1 “Dynamics of Triacylglycerol Metabolism” (chairs Richard Lehner and Khosrow Adeli)

A highlight of this session was the Laurens van Deenen Lecture, named in honor of the revered pioneer of lipid research from Utrecht University. This year’s outstanding lecture, entitled “Lipolysis: how fat catabolism affects lipid and energy metabolism”, was given by Rudi Zechner (Graz, Austria) who discussed the role of ATGL in lipolysis and in the provision of fatty acids for mitochondrial oxidation. Next, a talk on mechanisms of cellular lipid synthesis and storage was given by Bob Farese (San Francisco, USA) who talked about lipid droplets and different functions of DGAT1 and DGAT2. Two short talks on lipolysis by ATGL were given by Caleb Lord (Winston Salem, USA) and Petra Kienesberger (Edmonton, Canada). Steve Young’s (Los Angeles, USA) lecture provided new insights into the role of the GPI-binding protein-1 in lipolysis by lipoprotein lipase at the capillary endothelium. The involvement of CIDE-a protein in lipid metabolism and hepatic steatosis was the topic of a short presentation by Linkang Zhou (Beijing, China). The final short talk of the session was presented by George Carman (New Brunswick, USA) who was the first to establish the molecular nature of phosphatidate phosphohydrolase. He presented intriguing data on identification of a new yeast phosphatidate phosphohydrolase.

Session #2 “Phospholipid Function” (chairs Bill Dowhan and Suzanne Jackowski)

This session was in memory of Eugene Kennedy, the universally acknowledged grandfather of phospholipid research. The first talk was dedicated to the memory of Christian Raetz and delivered by Dennis Voelker (Denver, USA) who gave a fascinating presentation on how phosphatidylglycerol, a quantitatively minor component of lung surfactant, regulates innate immunity in the lung. Sergio Grinstein (Toronto, Canada) discussed his recent work on the role of phosphoinositides and phosphatidylserine in generating membrane surface charge and thereby targeting proteins. Next, two short talks by trainees Guergana Tasseva (Edmonton, Canada) and Susanne Horvath (Graz, Austria) focused on production of phosphatidylethanolamine by decarboxylation in mitochondria. After the coffee break Amy Walker (Worcester, USA) gave a short talk on alternative mechanisms for activation of the transcription factor SREBP-1 in Metazoans. The regulation of phospholipid synthesis by the direct (non-genomic) action of the c-Fos protein at the ER was presented in a short talk by Betty Caputto (Cordoba, Argentina). The session ended with short talks by Jelske van der Veen (Edmonton, Canada) and Ratnesh Singh (Guelph, Canada) on gluconeogenesis in PEMT-deficient mice and the role of CTP:phosphoethanolamine cytidylyltransferase in lipoprotein secretion and clearance), respectively.

Session #3 “Lipid Signaling and Regulation” (chairs Vytas Bankaitis and Masato Umeda)

The exciting topic of signaling mediated by endocannabinoids in the nervous system was presented by Ben Cravatt (San Diego, USA), after which Joost Holthuis (Utrecht, the Netherlands) gave a talk on sphingomyelin synthases and regulation of apoptosis. Next, Maurizio Crestani (Milan, Italy) discussed the regulation of lipid and energy metabolism by histone deacetylates in adipose tissue. A short talk was given by Carl Mousley (College Station, USA) who discussed how, in yeast, the sterol-binding protein Kes1 integrates lipid metabolism with nutrients in the TGN/endosomal system. In the next plenary talk, Clay Semenkovich (St. Louis, USA) presented novel data on the role of alkyl ether lipids and the peroxisomal enzyme PexRAP in development of obesity. Also in relation to obesity, Pontus Bostrom (Stockholm, Sweden) gave a short talk on fatty acid metabolism in muscle and its impact on metabolic disease. The final short talk of this session was by Andrea Dichlberger (Helsinki, Finland) on the role of acyl-CoA synthetases in regulating arachidonic acid production for eicosanoid synthesis in mast cells.

Session #4 “Cholesterol Metabolism” (chairs Bernardo Trigatti and Suzanne Pfeffer)

The afternoon session began with two plenary talks, the first by Bao-Liang Song (Shanghai, China) who talked about cholesterol uptake by the small intestine via the transporter NPC1L1 and showed that cholesterol deficiency promotes NPC1L1 movement to the plasma membrane. In the second talk, Kazu Ueda (Kyoto, Japan) discussed the mechanism of HDL formation via the ABCA1 transporter and demonstrated that the ABCG1 transporter effluxes 24-hydroxycholesterol from neurons. In a short talk, Ernst Steyrer (Graz, Austria) provided exciting new data on the importance of phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase for intestinal chylomicron secretion. Next, Leticia Gonzalez Jara (Hamilton, Canada) gave a short talk on the impact of diabetes on heart disease in apo Ehypomorphic mice lacking the scavenger receptor SR-B1. After the coffee break, Andrew Brown (Sidney, Australia) provided new insights into how cellular cholesterol levels are regulated, and Angel Baldan (St. Louis USA) presented his exciting new work on regulation of bile secretion by the micro-RNA, miR-33. Finally, two short talks were given by trainees Iulia Iatan (Montreal, Canada) and Willeke de Haan (Vancouver, Canada) on HDL biogenesis, and the role of ABCA1 in adipose tissue, respectively.

Session #6 “Fatty Acid Metabolism” (chairs James Ntambi and Chuck Rock)

The session opened with a plenary lecture by Jay Horton (Dallas, USA) on regulation of fatty acid synthesis by two recently identified factors: Mig-12 and S14. Next, Gary Lopaschuk (Edmonton, Canada) presented his work on fatty acid oxidation in the heart. Morgan Fullerton (Hamilton, Canada) gave a short talk on the action of metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes, on acetyl-CoA carboxylase-1 and -2. Another short talk was given by Roberta Leonardi (Memphis, USA) on the role of pantothenate kinase in obesity and hyperglycemia. Next, Dagmar Kratky (Graz, Austria) presented her recent work on inhibition of DGAT1 and atherosclerosis. Three more short talks by Miriam Jacome-Sosa (Edmonton, Canada) on trans-fatty acids and metabolic syndrome, Maggie Strable (Madison, USA) on metabolic effects of mono-unsaturated fatty acids in the liver, and Elijah Magrane (Montreal, Canada) on mice deficient in fatty acid binding proteins, completed the session.

Session #5 “Lipids and Disease-1” (chairs Neale Ridgway and Mario Silva-Neto)

The first two talks in this session were on the genetics of lipid disorders: Helen Hobbs (Dallas, USA) provided exciting new insights into the role of the phospholipase PNPLA3 in development of fatty liver, and Rob Hegele (London, Canada) discussed his latest data on the genetics of human triglyceridemia. Next, a short talk by Hideki Hayashi (Kumamoto, Japan) demonstrated that glia-derived apo Econtaining lipoproteins protect retinal ganglion neurons from apoptosis in glaucomatous optic neuropathy, and Yohei Ishibashi (Wako, Japan) talked about the regulation of glucosylceramide synthesis by AMPactivated kinase. After the break, Karen Reue (Los Angeles, USA) gave a plenary talk on her recent research on genetic factors that underlie sex differences in metabolic disease. A short talk by Jennifer Sacco (Toronto, Canada) on regulation of VLDL production by the GLP-1 receptor, and a short talk by Nanda Gruben (Groningen, the Netherlands) on hepatic insulin resistance in Ldlr KO mice, completed the Friday morning session. On Friday evening, 8 short talks were given by Canadian trainees and many non-CLC participants attended. The session was chaired by Cheryl Wellington and Scot Stone. Talks were given by Steve Poirier, Mia Golder, Vanessa DeClercq, Rabban Mangat, Robin da Silva, Jeevan Nagendran, Brittnee Zwicker and Kristin Bowden.

Session #7 “Lipids and Disease-2” (chairs Rene Jacobs and Spencer Proctor)

In the first talk of the final session, the rapidly expanding topic of autophagy was discussed by Ana Maria Cuervo (New York, USA), after which Cheryl Wellington (Vancouver, Canada) presented her recent research on HDL in the brain and the peripheral circulation. New data on the role of macrophage cholesterol transporters in atherosclerosis were presented by Miranda van Eck (Leiden, the Netherlands). The conference ended with a talk by Dawei Zhang (Edmonton, Canada) on sterol translocation by the transporter ABCG1.

Maurizio Crestani made some closing remarks and invited everyone to attend the 54th ICBL entitled “Linking Transcription to Physiology in Lipidomics” that will take place in Bari, Italy from September 17-21, 2013.

Dennis and Jean Vance on behalf of the Organizing Committee of the 53rd ICBL

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