Regulation of biomolecular condensates by interfacial protein clusters

Andrew W. Folkmann, Andrea Putnam, Chiu Fan Lee, Geraldine Seydoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biomolecular condensates are cellular compartments that can form by phase separation in the absence of limiting membranes. Studying the P granules of Caenorhabditis elegans, we find that condensate dynamics are regulated by protein clusters that adsorb to the condensate interface. Using in vitro reconstitution, live observations, and theory, we demonstrate that localized assembly of P granules is controlled by MEG-3, an intrinsically disordered protein that forms low dynamic assemblies on P granules. Following classic Pickering emulsion theory, MEG-3 clusters lower surface tension and slow down coarsening. During zygote polarization, MEG-3 recruits the DYRK family kinase MBK-2 to accelerate spatially regulated growth of the P granule emulsion. By tuning condensate-cytoplasm exchange, interfacial clusters regulate the structural integrity of biomolecular condensates, reminiscent of the role of lipid bilayers in membrane-bound organelles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabg7071
Issue number6560
StatePublished - Sep 10 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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