International Federation for Cell Biology

International Federation
for Cell Biology

XXXI All India Cell Biology Conference, Varanasi

(December 14 - 16, 2007): A Report

The annual meeting of the Indian Society of Cell Biology, the “XXXI All India Cell Biology Conference & Symposium on Stem Cells: Application and Prospects” was held at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, from 14th to 16th December, 2007 with Dr R Raman as its Covenor.

The conference was inaugurated by Dr P Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University. Dr S K Apte, President, Indian Society of Cell Biology welcomed the guests on the behalf of the society and delivered the Presidential address. The conference included the Prof J Das Memorial Lecture by Dr V Nagaraja, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 14 invited talks, 21 proffered oral presentations by students and senior members, 59 poster presentations, an interactive session on research methodologies and the meeting of Executive Committee and General Body of Indian Society of Cell Biology.

Fourth Prof J Das Memorial Lecture

The Prof J Das Memorial Lecture, a prestigious award lecture, was delivered by the distinguished scientist, Dr V Nagaraja, IISc, Bangalore. The session was chaired by Dr S K Apte and Dr S Ghaskadbi (President and Secretary of ISCB, respectively). In his lucid talk, Dr Nagaraja gave an insight into various cellular DNA transactions.

Session I

The first session of the conference had four invited lectures and two oral presentations by students. The session was chaired by Dr Joyoti Basu, IICB. In the first lecture Dr S Galande, NCCS, discussed the third dimension of gene regulation by a global chromatin organizer and transcription factor, SATB1. Dr D M Salunke, NII, gave a new dimension to antigen-antibody recognition, applying thermodynamic and crystallographic approaches. Dr A Ranganathan, ICGEB, demonstrated generation of a novel functional protein by combining a set of DNA hexamer duplexes with a view to identify newer functional proteins and generating inhibitors for protein targets in pathogenic organisms. Dr Somdatta Sinha, CCMB, gave a clear account highlighting protein modeling as a means to understanding structure and function. Through a proffered presentation Ms Ruchi Jain, a student member, illustrated transient association of calcium-binding protein 1 of Entamoeba histolytica with actin, mediating critical roles in cellular activities such as phagocytosis. Mr S M Pandey, DU, demonstrated nucleosome remodeling by the SW1/SNF chromatin remodeling complex obtained from chicken liver nuclear extract.

Session II

The afternoon session of the day had one invited lecture and four proffered talks. The session was chaired by Dr T Mukhopadhyay, Panjab U. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioural disorder in childhood. Dr M Muenke, NIH, Bethesda, USA, demonstrated that a minimal critical region of ~327 kb within the latrophilin 3 gene was involved in susceptibility to the disease and that a variant confers protection against the disorder. His visit was fully supported by the International Federation of Cell Biology. Dr Sabita K Murthy, Al Wasl Hospital, Dubai, discussed the use of high resolution array-CGH in genetic disgnosis of multiple congenital anomalies and mental retardation in children. Among the three students’ presentations, Mr R Puri, IITK, discussed the interaction and regulation of tau by Lafora disease proteins, Laforin and Malin; Ms Nilambra Dogra, Panjab U, demonstrated activation of wild type p53 to a very high level by treatment with a tubulin depolymerizing agent in human lung cancer cells resulting in tumour cell death; while Ms Moushami Mallik, BHU, threw light on various pathways through which a non-coding RNA could possibly ameliorate polyQ-induced neurodegeneration in Drosophila.

Symposium on Stem Cells: application and Prospects

The second day of the conference started with the Symposium on Stem Cells, chaired by Dr Rita Mulherkar, ACTREC. This included three invited lectures and two proffered talks by student members. Dr Bibha Choudhary, Manipal Inst Regenerative Med, discussed loss of type-II TGF-β receptor in neural crest stem cells leading to cardiovascular malformation and aneurysm. Dr A Rai, BHU, showed how limbal stem cells can be transplanted to cure chemical injuries of the cornea. Patients transplanted with stem cells regained normal vision. Through the proffered papers, Mr P Chandrashekar, CCMB, showed that argonaute 2-deficient murine embryonic stem cells are capable of self-renewal as well as differentiation; and Ms K L Surekha, ARI, demonstrated positive enhancement of angiogenesis in the chorioallantoic membrane of chick embryos by insulin and FGF2.

Session IV

The post-tea session of the second day had two invited and two student presentations under the chair of Dr K Majumdar, CCMB. In this session Dr R Tuli, NBRI, gave a lucid overview of nucleosomal organization, histone modifications and regulation of gene activity. Dr Aparna Duttagupta, Hyderabad U, threw light on the regulation of hexamerins, which account for ~80% of haemolymph proteins, by the 20-hydroxyecdysone during various stages of rice moth development. Mr H M Reddy, CCMB, proffered a paper demonstrating extensive alternate splicing of a newly identified non-coding RNA coded by the gene located in Yq heterochromatin and discussing the role of these RNAs in gene regulation. Mr P Lakshminarasimhan, NCCS, showed transcriptional and cell cycle regulation by the tumour suppressor protein, SMAR1, upon DNA damage by stabilizing p53 sequestering MDM2.

Session V

The post-lunch session of the day included two invited lectures and four student presentations, chaird by Dr V Radha, CCMB. Growing pollution is of great concern. Through a study conducted on Drosophila, Dr D KarChowdhuri, ITRC, showed that some of the industrial waste leachates may affect fertility and fecundity in exposed organisms. By inactivating an anti-sigma factor in Azospirillum, Dr A K Tripathi, BHU, demonstrated activation of a cryptic carotenoid biosynthetic pathway. In the students’ presentations, Mr T L Pavankumar, CCMB, showed that the RecBCD pathway of DNA repair is essential for growth of the Antarctic Pseudomonas species at low temperature; Mr A Bhattacharya, IICB, demonstrated the importance of phosphodiesterases in the differentiation of specific infective stages in Leishmania; Mr P Kumar, DU (South Campus), discussed characterization of five members of ribulose-1, 5-biphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase enzyme of cotton; and Ms Vidisha Tripathi, BHU, discussed the role of Cyp19A1 aromatase in gonadal differentiation in Calotes.

Session VII

The morning session of the third day had three invited lectures, one student presentation and a technical lecture. The session was chaired by Dr Shanti Chandrashekaran, IARI. Dr B M Mechler, German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, established a link between arginine methylation and localization of germ-line determinant proteins to their subcellular compartments during oogenesis in Drosophila. Dr P Sinha, IITK, dealt with the roles of Fat tumour suppressor in cell sheet migration during morphogenesis in Drosophila; Dr A Mukherjee, BHU, lucidly discussed the regulation of Notch signaling by its interacters. Mr P Singh, BHU, a student member, gave evidence for population sub-structuring and minimal gene flow in natural populations of Drosophila ananassae in India. In a technical lecture, Zeiss (India) showed new versions of confocal microscopes and developments in imaging.

Session VIII

The pre-lunch session of the day chaired by Dr M M Chaturvedi, DU, had one invited lecture and four proffered talks. After wounding, the levels epidermal hyaluronans are greatly increased in the skin and this increase promotes wound healing. Dr E Maytin, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, USA, showed that the accumulation of hyaluronans require epidermal growth factor receptor-mediated signaling. In proffered papers, Dr Judith A Mack, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, further demonstrated that elevated Hoxb13 expression influences epidermal differentiation, lowers hyaluronan levels and the wound healing process; Dr S Anand, from the same lab, discussed the emergence of photodynamic therapy for cancers of various origins; Dr A Kumar, IISc, threw light on the genetic loci involved in primary microcephaly in the families from the Southern parts of India; and Dr R Gope, NIMHANS, presented cases of brain tumour-specific alterations at p53 gene locus causing altered expression and phosphorylation of the p53 gene product.   

Session IX

An interactive session on `Research Methodologies: Problems and Solutions’ was held under the chairmanship of Dr S C Lakhotia, BHU. In this session, the chairperson invited the student participants in particular to present innovations in research methodologies made by them or the problems faced at any step in their research work. Ms Richa Arya, BHU, stimulated the audience with the innovative technique that after pealing the dried nail polish from the surface of Drosophila eye and examining the peal under the microscope, one can get comparable detailed images of the ommatidial organization in compound eye much as seen by scanning electron microscope. Students came up with several problems and obtained answers and suggestions from other participants.

Poster Sessions : Sessions III, VI and IX

A total of 59 posters were presented on diverse areas of Cell Biology during the poster sessions. All posters were on display for the three days and sufficient time slots were allotted to viewing posters. A large number of posters were from student members of the society, many of which were of high quality. Since these sessions gave an opportunity to all the interested participants to search the posters of their interest and to discuss the work at length, good interactions between the presenting author and the participants occurred. Since there were many posters, the highlights of each of them cannot be presented here.

Awards to Student Members

On the whole, the deliberations through platform and poster were stimulating and highly educating. From thirteen oral presentations by student members, the paper entitled “Lafora disease proteins, laforin and malin, interact with and regulate tau, a microtubule associated protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease” by Mr R Puri, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, was selected for the Prof A S Mukherjee Memorial Award. The paper entitled “RecBCD pathway of DNA repair is essential for growth of the Antarctic Pseudomonas syringae Lz4W at low temperature” by Mr T L Pavankumar, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, received the Prof V C Shah Award.  And the paper entitled “The non-coding hsrω transcripts modulate polyglutamine pathogenesis in Drosophila through multiple cellular targets” by Ms Moushami Mallik, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, received the Conference Award.

Out of 44 posters presented by student members, the poster entitled “Hsp60D, a member of the Hsp60 family, is a novel modifier of cell death in Drosophila” by Ms Richa Arya, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, was adjudged the Prof V C Shah Award. The poster, entitled “Enrichment of islet like cells from human bone marrow for cell replacement therapy in diabetes” by Ms Smruti M Phadnis, Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, was given the Prof B R Sheshachar Memorial Award. The poster entitled “Effect of gamma radiation on Indian tropical midge Chironomus ramosus: DNA and protein profiles” by Mr K Datkhile, University of Pune, Pune, received the Dr Mansi Ram Memorial Award. And the paper entitled “Hybrids of sibling species of Drosophila are developmentally as stable as their parents” by Ms C Vishalakshi, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, received the Conference Award.

The conference received generous funding from the Centre of Advanced study in Zoology, Faculty of Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences, DAE, Mumbai; the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, New Delhi; the Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi; the Department of Science & Technology, New Delhi; the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi; the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi; the International Federation of Cell Biology; Carl Zeiss India Private Ltd, Bangalore; Eppendorf India Limited, Lucknow; G E Healthcare Biosciences, Delhi; Goodricke Group Limited, Kolkata; HiMedia Laboratories Private Limited, Mumbai; Millipore India Private Limited, New Delhi; Simbiosis Biowares, Inc, Bangalore; Spinco Biotech Private Limited, Chennai; Towa Optics India Private Limited, New Delhi and Krispcold Enterprises, Mumbai. The organisation is very grateful to these benefactors for their support.

Professor J K Roy

Cytogenetics Laboratory, Department of Zoology
Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221 005
6-Jul-08