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Introduction

Life sciences have recently increasingly turned their attention to the space between cells and revealed an elaborate network of macromolecules essential for structural support, cell migration, adhesion and signaling. Upon interactions in the extracellular space, these macromolecules affect the extracellular matrix (ECM) dynamics and via cell receptors communicate with the cellular compartment. Emerging areas of research in the ECM field include epigenetic regulation of matrix macromolecules, microRNAs, stem cell biology, as well as the development of novel molecular modeling methodologies. Knowledge of these aspects will deepen our understanding of ECM regulatory roles in pathophysiology and inform the design of new pharmacological agents targeting serious diseases including, among others, cancer, angiogenesis, fibrosis, immunity and infectious diseases.

Issues related with matrix organization and assembly, cell adhesion, matrix-mediated signaling, as well as the matrix macromolecular effectors, namely proteoglycans and glycans, integrins, novel collagen types, growth factors and matrix metalloproteinases and other matrix degrading enzymes that affect the cell behavior, will be the target of this 7th FEBS-ALC. These topics are of great importance to understand the maintenance of normal tissue homeostasis and disease initiation and development, signaling elicited by interactions of cell surface receptors with matrix components and growth factors and rapid and sensitive structure analysis, epigenetics and cell imaging methods.

The FEBS Advance Lecture Course entitled “Matrix Pathobiology, Signaling and Molecular Targets 2019”, further to topics covered in the previous FEBS-MPST courses will cover topics related to ongoing development in the fields of:
1. Cell surface, interactions and signaling dealing with integrins, cell membrane and secreted proteoglycans as well as shed syndecans and glypicans, modulation of receptor activation and signaling by matrix effectors,
2. Matrix remodeling enzymes dealing with enzymes (MMPs, cathepsins, heparanase) implicated in disease development and progression,
3. Matrix organization and assembly dealing with novel collagen types, matrikines and other emerging concepts including proteoglycans & GAGs, non-collagenous proteins, matrix components and inflammation as well as tissue organization and properties,
4. Novel insights in matrix pathobiology regulatory mechanisms dealing with epigenetic modifications (including microRNAs) of ECM macromolecules and cell-matrix interactions with focus on pharmacological targeting of cancer.
The above fields will focus also on matrix-mediated epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), glycomics and domain mapping of interactions with matrix effectors and their importance for disease treatment and diagnosis. Key areas of cancer stem cell biology and biomarkers, and pharmacological targeting in malignancies are also included.

This FEBS ALC course will provide important new knowledge to participants in the form of:
1. Understanding the importance of the main matrix macromolecules, their structure-function relationship as well as their therapeutically challenges, mainly from the general lectures (tutorials) to be held.
2. The tissue organization and the matrix assembly mediated by matrix macromolecules in health and disease.
3. New insights on how matrix macromolecules contribute to matrix-mediated cell signaling and cell behavior as well as how these molecules affect disease development and progress.
3. Participants will further become familiar with methodological challenges used for expression and determination of various macromolecules with biopharmaceutical importance as well as novel aspects of cell imaging.

An important goal of this ALC is to bring together scientists from biochemistry, life sciences, molecular cell biology and bioinformatics on an important and fast growing scientific field. The benefits of the course will provide participants with the advances of the field, a new understanding of the matrix-mediated cell regulation, new technology for unraveling molecular structures and functions, as well as how this can be used to study alterations in tissue in disease. The participants will gain information that can be applied in their academic environment and research institutes. For such a purpose apart from invited lectures, tutorials, selected talks and flash presentations from young fellows, poster sessions, panel discussions and speaker corners (meet the experts) will be organized.

Following the 2015 and 2017 very successful set-up of FEBS-MPST series (http://www.febs-mpst2017.upatras.gr/) as well as the 2018 FEBS-ECM (https://extracellularmatrix.febsevents.org/), a young scientists’ committee will organize general lectures/tutorials in the first days of the meeting as well as pubquiz during the entire course providing in this way the necessary brainstorming for those entering the field of Extracellular Matrix Pathobiology. A career development session to promote the motivation of students including general presentations/tutorials will be also organized by the young scientists’ committee.

FEBS has twin commitments to high-quality publications and the promotion of molecular biosciences. As a charitable academic organization,
FEBS uses income from the journals to fund its diverse activities, including support for FEBS Advanced Courses.