Collagens are large molecules subject to unusually complex posttranslational modifications, and typically form molecular aggregates in the extracellular matrix. Collagens can be mutated, completely lack or be expressed at incorrect levels in a wide spectrum of genetic or acquired diseases ranging from bone, brain and cartilage to eyes, kidneys, liver, lungs, skin, the nervous system and other tissues and organs. Indeed, collagens are directly or indirectly implicated in all pathological processes. Tissue fragility, often a sign of collagen dysfunction, and fibrotic processes, that is accumulation of collagen, are classical examples of collagens´ effects on breakage of health.
The 2021 meeting will be the 50th anniversary of the Collagen GRC, an uninterrupted series starting in 1970. Remarkably, the needs to understand collagen biology are still rapidly growing. Only lately have we begun to understand the pleiotropy of collagens and their varied domains, often proteolytically releasable and endowed with novel functional properties compared with the parent molecules. The subtitle of the 2021 Collagen GRC is “Physiological and Disease Relevance and the Underlaying Molecular Properties of Collagens”. Hence, a central goal of the 2021 Collagen GRC is to not only to document the effects of the collagen mutations but to understand how the collagens interact with other matrix molecules and cells in the physiological contexts, how mutations in collagens themselves or the many molecules responsible for their correct modifications, supramolecular organization and transport, translate into devastating consequences at organism level.
Moreover, research on collagens can have unexpected impact on fields hitherto considered entirely distinct. We also aim to link collagen research to a broader context of biology, as exemplified by the recent understanding that the thorough knowledge of the key enzymes of collagen biosynthesis, the collagen prolyl 4-hydroxylases, can now be used to develop drugs that target the mechanistically similar hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) prolyl-hydroxylases. This topic is particularly timely as witnessed by the 2019 Nobel Award on discovery of the hypoxia response mechanism by our keynote speaker, Dr. William Kaelin, Jr. Other important fields in collagen research to be highlighted in the 2021 conference pertain to biomechanical and bioengineering aspects, stem cell guidance, fibrosis, malignant growth, and musculoskeletal development and pathology. We will also bring forward the rapidly increasing systems biology approach regarding the association and roles of collagens in normal and disease situations. Moreover, in terms of basic understanding of collagens, we will highlight recent data on the turnover and transport of collagens in tissues and cells. Altogether, we are now at the dawn of using a more comprehensive understanding of collagens towards novel therapeutic approaches. The past of collagen research has provided impressive results and in this celebratory meeting we will hear frontier talks about the super exciting present and future.
The conference will consist of nine sessions, on the topics listed below. The conference chair is currently developing their preliminary program, which will include the names of the invited speakers and discussion leaders for each of these sessions. Please check back regularly for updates to this information.
- Keynote Session: From 4-Hydroxyproline in Collagen to Hypoxia Control
- Functional Effects and Translational Potential of Mutations in Collagens
- Collagen Transport, Turnover and Homeostasis
- Collagens and Related Molecules in Stem Cell Regulation
- Musculoskeletal Development and Pathology
- Tumor Growth and Metastasis
- Collagens: Systems Approaches, Networks and Interactomes
- Fibrosis and Tissue Repair
- Bioengineering and Materials Design