Harnessing biomolecular condensates in living cells

Hideki Nakamura, Robert DeRose, Takanari Inoue

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


As part of the 'Central Dogma' of molecular biology, the function of proteins and nucleic acids within a cell is determined by their primary sequence. Recent work, however, has shown that within living cells the role of many proteins and RNA molecules can be influenced by the physical state in which the molecule is found. Within living cells, both protein and RNA molecules are observed to condense into non-membrane-bound yet distinct structures such as liquid droplets, hydrogels and insoluble aggregates. These unique intracellular organizations, collectively termed biomolecular condensates, have been found to be vital in both normal and pathological conditions. Here, we review the latest studies that have developed molecular tools attempting to recreate artificial biomolecular condensates in living cells. We will describe their design principles, implementation and unique characteristics, along with limitations. We will also introduce how these tools can be used to probe and perturb normal and pathological cell functions, which will then be complemented with discussions of remaining areas for technological advance under this exciting theme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • biomolecular condensates
  • chemically-induced dimerization
  • hydrogels
  • liquid droplets
  • optogenetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

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