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      Germline P granules are liquid droplets that localize by controlled dissolution/condensation.

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          Abstract

          In sexually reproducing organisms, embryos specify germ cells, which ultimately generate sperm and eggs. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the first germ cell is established when RNA and protein-rich P granules localize to the posterior of the one-cell embryo. Localization of P granules and their physical nature remain poorly understood. Here we show that P granules exhibit liquid-like behaviors, including fusion, dripping, and wetting, which we used to estimate their viscosity and surface tension. As with other liquids, P granules rapidly dissolved and condensed. Localization occurred by a biased increase in P granule condensation at the posterior. This process reflects a classic phase transition, in which polarity proteins vary the condensation point across the cell. Such phase transitions may represent a fundamental physicochemical mechanism for structuring the cytoplasm.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Science
          Science (New York, N.Y.)
          American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
          1095-9203
          0036-8075
          Jun 26 2009
          : 324
          : 5935
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, 01307 Dresden, Germany.
          Article
          1172046
          10.1126/science.1172046
          19460965
          1baa5fb9-9e23-43a7-9206-041f65f5fca0
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