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Annexins 2019 – Bridging the global scientific community

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Published: 02 Apr 2020
Category: Meetings update
By Ursula Rescher, Carsten A Raabe, Felicity Gavins

The 10th International Conference on Annexins, Annexins 2019, was held in Münster, Germany and welcomed approximately 80 delegates from 10 European countries, USA, Brazil, Singapore, Japan, and Australia. It has been 20 years since this biannual conference series started in Wye College, UK. As always, the vibrant programme included cutting-edge science and plenary and poster sessions. The informal get-togethers and conference dinners provided opportunities to continue the scientific exchange in a more relaxed setting. Several British Pharmacological Society (BPS) members were present, including Mauro Perretti (Queen Mary University of London), Felicity Gavins (Brunel University London), and Ursula Rescher (Münster University, Germany).

Annexins 2019 focused on bridging annexin-themed basic science and translational research themes.

Background



The first annexin family member was discovered in 1978, and its Ca2+-dependent binding to membranes containing negatively charged phospholipids turned out to be the hallmark of this structurally highly conserved family. This biochemical signature enables annexins to transduce and integrate membrane-related events in response to changes in Ca2+ concentration, and their participation in e.g. endo- and exocytosis, membrane rearrangement events and cytoskeletal organization has been the major research interest.

Annexins 2019

The keynote lecture by Ludger Johannes (Institute Curie, Paris) on ‘Clathrin-independent endocytosis’ set the theme for the first part of the meeting, which focused on annexins and membrane dynamics and plasticity. Talks on the expression of annexins in yeast to produce biofuels (Carl Creutz, University of Virginia, Charlottesville) and the function of Annexin A8 in retinal pigment epithelial cell transdifferentiation (Stephen Moss, University College London) added to the growing evidence that annexins function in the control of membrane integrity under stress conditions. Along the same lines, an entire session was dedicated to their newly discovered role in facilitating plasma membrane repair, a process that restores the compromised plasma membrane and prevents cell death. The potential use of the zebrafish model in this context was highlighted in this session. Membrane dynamics is also a major theme in the microbe–host interplay and annexins as host factors were discussed in the context of human papillomavirus trafficking (Martin Kast, University of Southern California, Los Angeles), hepatitis C virus infection (Hanna Bley, University of Marburg), and pore-forming toxins from bacteria (Annette Draeger, University of Bern).

The potential of annexins in translational research is most obvious in case of AnxA1, which, together with its N-terminal peptide, acts in an anti-inflammatory manner in many experimental conditions, presumably via binding to the formyl-peptide receptor (FPR) subfamily of pattern recognition receptors. This explains why annexin conferences also cover extensively this receptor family and their ligands, and several talks focused on the effects of targeting the FPR family in the context of diseases such as cancer (Lina Lim, National University of Singapore), pneumococcal pneumonia and polymicrobial sepsis (Lirlãndia Pires de Sousa, UFMG Belo Horizonte), stroke and thrombo-inflammation (Felicity Gavins), and joint disease (Mauro Perretti), to name but a few. Annexin A2 and its function in angiogenesis was discussed by Katherine A. Hajjar (Weil Cornell Medical College, New York). A probably underestimated annexin function was addressed in a talk by Anni Vedeler (University of Bergen) on Annexin A2 as regulator of mRNA translation. Another straightforward application is the use of Annexin A5 phosphoserine binding as a selective molecular imaging probe and Chris Reutelingsperger (Maastricht University) presented a talk on this subject area. Finally, Anna Frostegard (Karolinska Institute, Stockholm) summarized various aspects of the clinical implication of using Annexin A5 to treat disease and the challenges of establishing a successful business to take compounds from bench to bedside.

A successful meeting

All that hard work and determination really paid off. Annexins 2019 was an exceptional conference and we received excellent feedback. With 48% female attendees and 38% talks given by female speakers, we took a major step toward gender equality. It was a great pleasure to see so many early career researchers presenting their research. Indeed, 47% of the oral presentations were Short Talks selected from the abstracts, and were an excellent opportunity for first-time presenters. Three prizes for outstanding poster presentations (Ricky Patel and Valentina Marchica, both King’s College London, and Sebastian Schloer, Münster University) and one Short Talk prize (Carles Rentero, University of Barcelona) were awarded – congratulations to the winners!

We look forward to meeting again in Stockholm at Annexins 2021!

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Published: 02 Apr 2020
Category: Meetings update
By Ursula Rescher, Carsten A Raabe, Felicity Gavins

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