The 34th Asilomar Conference on Mass Spectrometry, organized by Nicolas Young (Baylor College of Medicine) and Heather Desaire (University of Kansas), was held on November 2–6, 2018 at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA. The focus of the conference was on “Quantitative Analysis of Posttranslational Modifications by Mass Spectrometry.” The 21 invited talks, 6 “hot topic” talks, and 20 poster presentations provoked many questions and vigorous debate among the particularly engaged attendees of over 90 researchers (Fig. 1).
The quantitative analysis of posttranslational modifications (PTMs) has become an increasingly important application of mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics. This is due to fundamental biology converging on the abundance and dynamics of PTMs as essential to a myriad of biological processes. However, the challenges of accurate and reproducible quantification of PTMs by mass spectrometry are substantially different from protein identification or even PTM identification and localization. The oral and poster presentations focused on a wide range of topics that included fundamental biology, PTMs in systems biology and diseases, data analysis and quantification approaches, phosphoproteomics and signaling networks, glycosylation and other types of “exotic” PTMs, and new MS technologies to address PTMs. (The full conference program can be found on the ASMS website.)
The conference was kept on time by Po-Po the monkey (Fig. 2), and from a long-standing tradition of the ASMS Asilomar meeting, at least one attendee had their tie cut for overdressing to attend this casual conference at such a beautiful destination. Hallmarks of this small conference are the personal interactions and casual discussions among the attendees (Fig. 3). The weather was outstandingly sunny and comfortable, which allowed for an evening bonfire finale complete with s’mores and a ceremonial sacrifice and roasting of the conference pumpkin.
The small collection of articles contributed to this special focus on “Quantitative Analysis of Posttranslational Modifications by Mass Spectrometry” is representative of the high quality of presentations made at the 2018 Asilomar meeting.