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Title: Asymmetric oligomerization state and sequence patterning can tune multiphase condensate miscibility

Endogenous biomolecular condensates, composed of a multitude of proteins and RNAs, can organize into multiphasic structures with compositionally distinct phases. This multiphasic organization is generally understood to be critical for facilitating their proper biological function. However, the biophysical principles driving multiphase formation are not completely understood. Here we use in vivo condensate reconstitution experiments and coarse-grained molecular simulations to investigate how oligomerization and sequence interactions modulate multiphase organization in biomolecular condensates. We demonstrate that increasing the oligomerization state of an intrinsically disordered protein results in enhanced immiscibility and multiphase formation. Interestingly, we find that oligomerization tunes the miscibility of intrinsically disordered proteins in an asymmetric manner, with the effect being more pronounced when the intrinsically disordered protein, exhibiting stronger homotypic interactions, is oligomerized. Our findings suggest that oligomerization is a flexible biophysical mechanism that cells can exploit to tune the internal organization of biomolecular condensates and their associated biological functions.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nature Chemistry
Medium: X Size: p. 1073-1082
p. 1073-1082
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract Background

    Biomolecular condensates are non-stoichiometric assemblies that are characterized by their capacity to spatially concentrate biomolecules and play a key role in cellular organization. Proteins that drive the formation of biomolecular condensates frequently contain oligomerization domains and intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs), both of which can contribute multivalent interactions that drive higher-order assembly. Our understanding of the relative and temporal contribution of oligomerization domains and IDRs to the material properties of in vivo biomolecular condensates is limited. Similarly, the spatial and temporal dependence of protein oligomeric state inside condensates has been largely unexplored in vivo.


    In this study, we combined quantitative microscopy with number and brightness analysis to investigate the aging, material properties, and protein oligomeric state of biomolecular condensates in vivo. Our work is focused on condensates formed by AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR 19 (ARF19), a transcription factor integral to the auxin signaling pathway in plants. ARF19 contains a large central glutamine-rich IDR and a C-terminal Phox Bem1 (PB1) oligomerization domain and forms cytoplasmic condensates.


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    IDR amino acid composition affects condensate morphology and material properties. In ARF condensates, altering the amino acid composition of the IDR did not greatly affect the oligomeric state of proteins within the condensate.

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