bims-fascar Biomed News
on Phase separation and cellular architecture
Issue of 2021‒01‒24
two papers selected by
Victoria Yan
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics


  1. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2021 Jan 15. pii: S0955-0674(20)30171-X. [Epub ahead of print]69 48-54
    Jaqaman K, Ditlev JA.
      Clustering is a prominent feature of receptors at the plasma membrane (PM). It plays an important role in signaling. Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) of proteins is emerging as a novel mechanism underlying the observed clustering. Receptors/transmembrane signaling proteins can be core components essential for LLPS (such as LAT or nephrin) or clients enriched at the phase-separated condensates (for example, at the postsynaptic density or at tight junctions). Condensate formation has been shown to regulate signaling in multiple ways, including by increasing protein binding avidity and by modulating the local biochemical environment. In moving forward, it is important to study protein LLPS at the PM of living cells, its interplay with other factors underlying receptor clustering, and its signaling and functional consequences.
    Keywords:  Cell surface receptors; Clustering; LAT; Nephrin; Phase separation; Plasma membrane; Postsynaptic density; Signal transduction; T cell signaling; Tight junction
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ceb.2020.12.006
  2. Trends Cell Biol. 2021 Jan 14. pii: S0962-8924(20)30250-6. [Epub ahead of print]
    So C, Cheng S, Schuh M.
      Phase separation has emerged as a new key principle of intracellular organization. Phase-separated structures play diverse roles in various biological processes and pathogenesis of protein aggregation diseases. Recent work has revealed crucial functions for phase separation during germline development. Phase separation controls the assembly and segregation of germ granules that determine which embryonic cells become germ cells. Phase separation promotes the formation of the Balbiani body, a structure that stores organelles and RNAs during the prolonged prophase arrest of oocytes. Phase separation also facilitates meiotic recombination that prepares homologous chromosomes for segregation, and drives the formation of a liquid-like spindle domain that promotes spindle assembly in mammalian oocytes. We review how phase separation drives these essential steps during germline development.
    Keywords:  biomolecular condensates; germ cells; germline development; meiosis; oocytes; phase separation
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2020.12.004