Protein phase transitions in and out of cells
Prof. Dr. Ned S. Wingreen (Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University,USA)
Biologists have recently come to appreciate that eukaryotic cells are home to a multiplicity of non-membrane bound compartments, many of which form and dissolve as needed for the cell to function. These dynamical ‘‘liquid droplets’’ enable many central cellular functions - from ribosome assembly, to RNA regulation and storage, to signaling and metabolism. While it is clear that these compartments represent a type of separated phase, what controls their formation, how specific biological components are included or excluded, and how these structures influence physiological and biochemical processes remain largely mysterious. I will discuss recent experiments on phase separated droplets both in vitro and in vivo, and will present theoretical results that highlight a novel ‘‘magic number’’ effect relevant to the formation and control of two-component phase separated liquid droplets.