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  1. Abstract

    Intrinsically disordered proteins rich in cationic amino acid groups can undergo Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation (LLPS) in the presence of charge-balancing anionic counterparts. Arginine and Lysine are the two most prevalent cationic amino acids in proteins that undergo LLPS, with arginine-rich proteins observed to undergo LLPS more readily than lysine-rich proteins, a feature commonly attributed to arginine’s ability to form stronger cation-π interactions with aromatic groups. Here, we show that arginine’s ability to promote LLPS is independent of the presence of aromatic partners, and that arginine-rich peptides, but not lysine-rich peptides, display re-entrant phase behavior at high salt concentrations. We further demonstrate that the hydrophobicity of arginine is the determining factor giving rise to the reentrant phase behavior and tunable viscoelastic properties of the dense LLPS phase. Controlling arginine-induced reentrant LLPS behavior using temperature and salt concentration opens avenues for the bioengineering of stress-triggered biological phenomena and drug delivery systems.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Numerous biological systems contain vesicle‐like biomolecular compartments without membranes, which contribute to diverse functions including gene regulation, stress response, signaling, and skin barrier formation. Coacervation, as a form of liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS), is recognized as a representative precursor to the formation and assembly of membrane‐less vesicle‐like structures, although their formation mechanism remains unclear. In this study, a coacervation‐driven membrane‐less vesicle‐like structure is constructed using two proteins, GG1234 (an anionic intrinsically disordered protein) and bhBMP‐2 (a bioengineered human bone morphogenetic protein 2). GG1234 formed both simple coacervates by itself and complex coacervates with the relatively cationic bhBMP‐2 under acidic conditions. Upon addition of dissolved bhBMP‐2 to the simple coacervates of GG1234, a phase transition from spherical simple coacervates to vesicular condensates occurred via the interactions between GG1234 and bhBMP‐2 on the surface of the highly viscoelastic GG1234 simple coacervates. Furthermore, the shell structure in the outer region of the GG1234/bhBMP‐2 vesicular condensates exhibited gel‐like properties, leading to the formation of multiphasic vesicle‐like compartments. A potential mechanism is proposed for the formation of the membrane‐less GG1234/bhBMP‐2 vesicle‐like compartments. This study provides a dynamic process underlying the formation of biomolecular multiphasic condensates, thereby enhancing the understanding of these biomolecular structures.

     
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