Skip to main content
Log in

Nonspecific characteristics of macromolecules create specific effects in living cells

  • Review
  • Published:
Biophysical Reviews Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Recently, the important role of microphase separation in living cells has been attracting considerable interest in relation to cell organization and function. For example, many studies have focused on liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) as a very plausible mechanism for the presence of membraneless organelles. To confirm the role of phase separation in living cells, experimental studies on models and/or reconstructed systems are needed. In this short review, we discuss current paradigms of LLPS and provide some example “review data” to demonstrate particular points relating to the specific localization of biological macromolecules like DNAs and actin proteins with spontaneous domain formation in microdroplets emerging in an aqueous two-phase system (ATPS) (we use polyethylene glycol (PEG)/dextran (DEX)—a binary polymer solution). We also suggest that phase separation and transition may play basic roles in regulation of the biochemical reactivity of individual long genomic DNAs.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references


K. Tsumoto thanks Ms. Aya Matsumoto (Mie University) for her help with the experiment that produced the data shown in Fig. 1c.


This work was supported in part by KAKENHI (JP15H02121 to K.Y.; JP18H04976 to K. Tsumoto).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kanta Tsumoto.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tsumoto, K., Sakuta, H., Takiguchi, K. et al. Nonspecific characteristics of macromolecules create specific effects in living cells. Biophys Rev 12, 425–434 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: