On the surface of things: How biomolecular condensates affect intracellular processes
Abstract : Biomolecular condensates, or coacervates, are condensed liquid-like droplets found in cells that are formed by liquid-liquid phase separation of proteins, nucleic acids and small molecules. Their functions as biomolecular storage centres, organizational hubs or reaction crucibles are mostly linked to the uptake and release of molecules through partitioning. However, emerging evidence from cell biology and in vitro synthetic cell models shows that condensates also have functional interactions, often mediated by the condensate interface, with a wide range of other cellular components and biomolecules, including membranes, filaments and other condensates, leading to intracellular transport, communication and signalling and membrane remodelling. Here, we use model condensates to gain more insight into surface-mediated interactions of condensates, in particular their role in membrane reshaping and penetration, protein assembly and aggregation and multiphase condensate formation.
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