DOI: 10.1101/694406Jul 6, 2019Paper

Mechanisms of active regulation of biomolecular condensates

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Johannes SödingJan Kirschbaum


Liquid-liquid phase separation is a key organizational principle in eukaryotic cells, on par with intracellular membranes. It allows cells to concentrate specific proteins into condensates, increasing reaction rates and achieving switch-like regulation. However, it is unclear how cells trigger condensate formation or dissolution and regulate their sizes. We predict from first principles two mechanisms of active regulation by post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation: In enrichment-inhibition, the regulating modifying enzyme enriches in condensates and the modifications of proteins inhibit their interactions. Stress granules, Cajal bodies, P granules, splicing speckles, and synapsin condensates obey this model. In localization-induction, condensates form around an immobilized modifying enzyme, whose modifications strengthen protein interactions. Spatially targeted condensates formed during transmembrane signaling, microtubule assembly, and actin polymerization conform to this model. The two models make testable predictions that can guide studies into the many emerging roles of biomolecular condensates.

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