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      Liquid phase condensation in cell physiology and disease.

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          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 references 170

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          The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis

           A Turing (1952)
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            Functional rafts in cell membranes.

            A new aspect of cell membrane structure is presented, based on the dynamic clustering of sphingolipids and cholesterol to form rafts that move within the fluid bilayer. It is proposed that these rafts function as platforms for the attachment of proteins when membranes are moved around inside the cell and during signal transduction.
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              Supercooled liquids and the glass transition.

              Glasses are disordered materials that lack the periodicity of crystals but behave mechanically like solids. The most common way of making a glass is by cooling a viscous liquid fast enough to avoid crystallization. Although this route to the vitreous state-supercooling-has been known for millennia, the molecular processes by which liquids acquire amorphous rigidity upon cooling are not fully understood. Here we discuss current theoretical knowledge of the manner in which intermolecular forces give rise to complex behaviour in supercooled liquids and glasses. An intriguing aspect of this behaviour is the apparent connection between dynamics and thermodynamics. The multidimensional potential energy surface as a function of particle coordinates (the energy landscape) offers a convenient viewpoint for the analysis and interpretation of supercooling and glass-formation phenomena. That much of this analysis is at present largely qualitative reflects the fact that precise computations of how viscous liquids sample their landscape have become possible only recently.

                Author and article information

                Science (New York, N.Y.)
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                September 22 2017
                : 357
                : 6357
                [1 ] Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.
                [2 ] Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.


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