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      Liquid phase condensation in cell physiology and disease.

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          Abstract

          Phase transitions are ubiquitous in nonliving matter, and recent discoveries have shown that they also play a key role within living cells. Intracellular liquid-liquid phase separation is thought to drive the formation of condensed liquid-like droplets of protein, RNA, and other biomolecules, which form in the absence of a delimiting membrane. Recent studies have elucidated many aspects of the molecular interactions underlying the formation of these remarkable and ubiquitous droplets and the way in which such interactions dictate their material properties, composition, and phase behavior. Here, we review these exciting developments and highlight key remaining challenges, particularly the ability of liquid condensates to both facilitate and respond to biological function and how their metastability may underlie devastating protein aggregation diseases.

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          Most cited references83

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          The multifunctional nucleolus.

          The nucleolus is a distinct subnuclear compartment that was first observed more than 200 years ago. Nucleoli assemble around the tandemly repeated ribosomal DNA gene clusters and 28S, 18S and 5.8S ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) are transcribed as a single precursor, which is processed and assembled with the 5S rRNA into ribosome subunits. Although the nucleolus is primarily associated with ribosome biogenesis, several lines of evidence now show that it has additional functions. Some of these functions, such as regulation of mitosis, cell-cycle progression and proliferation, many forms of stress response and biogenesis of multiple ribonucleoprotein particles, will be discussed, as will the relation of the nucleolus to human diseases.
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            Reaction-diffusion model as a framework for understanding biological pattern formation.

            The Turing, or reaction-diffusion (RD), model is one of the best-known theoretical models used to explain self-regulated pattern formation in the developing animal embryo. Although its real-world relevance was long debated, a number of compelling examples have gradually alleviated much of the skepticism surrounding the model. The RD model can generate a wide variety of spatial patterns, and mathematical studies have revealed the kinds of interactions required for each, giving this model the potential for application as an experimental working hypothesis in a wide variety of morphological phenomena. In this review, we describe the essence of this theory for experimental biologists unfamiliar with the model, using examples from experimental studies in which the RD model is effectively incorporated.
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              Phase separation of signaling molecules promotes T cell receptor signal transduction.

              Activation of various cell surface receptors triggers the reorganization of downstream signaling molecules into micrometer- or submicrometer-sized clusters. However, the functional consequences of such clustering have been unclear. We biochemically reconstituted a 12-component signaling pathway on model membranes, beginning with T cell receptor (TCR) activation and ending with actin assembly. When TCR phosphorylation was triggered, downstream signaling proteins spontaneously separated into liquid-like clusters that promoted signaling outputs both in vitro and in human Jurkat T cells. Reconstituted clusters were enriched in kinases but excluded phosphatases and enhanced actin filament assembly by recruiting and organizing actin regulators. These results demonstrate that protein phase separation can create a distinct physical and biochemical compartment that facilitates signaling.
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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
                September 22 2017
                : 357
                : 6357
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.
                [2 ] Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA. cbrangwy@princeton.edu.
                Article
                357/6357/eaaf4382
                10.1126/science.aaf4382
                28935776
                26242b12-c201-4f3c-a788-4cd48c3d81fe

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