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On the surface of things: How biomolecular condensates affect intracellular processes 

Date 27 March 2023 Time 13:00 - 14:00
Location AMOLF Lecture Room
Speaker Evan Spruijt (Radboud University)
Category Colloquium Autonomous Matter

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.


  1. Multiphase complex coacervate droplets. Lu, T. and Spruijt, E., JACS (2020), 142, 2905-2914.
  2. Endocytosis of coacervates into liposomes. Lu, T., Liese, S., Schoenmakers, L., Weber, C.A., Suzuki, H., Huck, W.T.S. and Spruijt, E., JACS (2022), 144, 13451-13455.
  3. Biomolecular condensates can both accelerate and suppress aggregation of α-synuclein. Lipiński, W.P., Visser, B.S. Robu, I., Abolghassemi Fakhree, M.M., Lindhoud, S., Claessens, M.M.A.E. and Spruijt, E., Science Advances (2022), 8, abq6495.
  4. Structure-property relationships governing membrane-penetrating behaviour of complex coacervates. Lu, T., Hu, X., van Haren, M.H.I., Spruijt, E. and Huck, W.T.S. (2023).