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Ub Ub Hurraah - for the 6th time in Vienna

03 Jun 2019

The 6th "Ubiquitin and Friends" symposium took place on 20-21st of May at the historic Billrothhaus in Vienna. Here, Tim Clausen (IMP) and Yasin Dagdas (GMI) reflect on the meeting and its highlights, from novel mechanism of proteasome regulation to unusual ubiquitin ligase signalling.

As reflected by its name, attendees appreciated the unique spirit of the meeting, in particular its family-like atmosphere giving everyone a chance to catchup with novices and experts alike. The meeting started with a ub-ig bang. One of the founding members of the ubiquitin-proteasome field, Alfred "Fred" Goldberg gave an amazing talk describing his personal journey that took him from discovering a non-lysosomal, energy-dependent protease (which later turned out to be the famous proteasome) to developing specific proteasome inhibitors, such as MG132, which have so far prolonged the life of hundreds of thousands of cancer patients. It was simply fascinating to see the progress made in the last decades, while at the same time realizing how many surprises are still waiting to be discovered when studying complex protease machines and their use in medical research.

The second keynote was delivered by Ivan Dikic, one of the most famous and influential researchers in the ubiquitin and autophagy field worldwide. Ivan covered a variety of topics, including how the arms race between microbes and their hosts gave rise to novel, pretty exotic yet thrilling mechanisms in ubiquitin biology.

As for the keynote lecturers, we had an amazing group of invited speakers covering various aspects of mechanistic cell biology. The topics ranged from intriguing quality-control mechanisms that ensure removal of damaged proteins to a ubiquitin ping-pong among ubiquitination enzymes, and a light version of the ubiquitin-degradation machinery operating in mycobacteria that cause tuberculosis. In flash talks, all 45 posters (!) had to be presented in a free-style, 90 seconds performance, a breath-taking experience not only for the presenting students, but also for the audience. As for the posters, the selected talks given by early career scientists once again confirmed the field is in great hands and seminal discoveries are around the corner. The early career scientists embraced novel technologies in chemical biology, cryo-electron microscopy or CRISPR screening to gain fundamental insights on various aspects of ubiquitin signalling.

In conclusion, it was simply fun to witness the exciting science at our ubiquitin symposium, seeing the field further emerge – which for us is not a surprise, as "we all work on ubiquitin related topics, whether we know it or not" (Rachel Klevit at our Ub symposium 2016). We hope that our outside friends enjoyed the meeting as much as the Viennese crowd, and indeed look very much forward to our 2020 symposium.

Group photo download