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Nonspecific characteristics of macromolecules create specific effects in living cells

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Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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

Funding

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

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Correspondence to Kanta Tsumoto.

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Tsumoto, K., Sakuta, H., Takiguchi, K. et al. Nonspecific characteristics of macromolecules create specific effects in living cells. Biophys Rev 12, 425–434 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12551-020-00673-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12551-020-00673-w

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