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Creators/Authors contains: "Regy, Roshan Mammen"

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  1. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules are membraneless organelles (MLOs), which majorly consist of RNA and RNA-binding proteins and are formed via liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS). Experimental studies investigating the drivers of LLPS have shown that intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) and nucleic acids like RNA and other polynucleotides play a key role in modulating protein phase separation. There is currently a dearth of modelling techniques which allow one to delve deeper into how polynucleotides play the role of a modulator/promoter of LLPS in cells using computational methods. Here, we present a coarse-grained polynucleotide model developed to fill this gap, which together with our recently developed HPS model for protein LLPS, allows us to capture the factors driving protein-polynucleotide phase separation. We explore the capabilities of the modelling framework with the LAF-1 RGG system which has been well studied in experiments and also with the HPS model previously. Further taking advantage of the fact that the HPS model maintains sequence specificity we explore the role of charge patterning on controlling polynucleotide incorporation into condensates. With increased charge patterning we observe formation of structured or patterned condensates which suggests the possible roles of polynucleotides in not only shifting the phase boundaries but also introducing microscopic organization in MLOs. 
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  2. Abstract

    We present improvements to thehydropathyscale (HPS) coarse‐grained (CG) model for simulating sequence‐specific behavior of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), including their liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS). The previous model based on an atomistic hydropathy scale by Kapcha and Rossky (KR scale) is not able to capture some well‐known LLPS trends such as reduced phase separation propensity upon mutations (R‐to‐K and Y‐to‐F). Here, we propose to use the Urry hydropathy scale instead, which was derived from the inverse temperature transitions in a model polypeptide with guest residues X. We introduce two free parameters to shift (Δ) and scale (µ) the overall interaction strengths for the new model (HPS‐Urry) and use the experimental radius of gyration for a diverse group of IDPs to find their optimal values. Interestingly, many possible (Δ,µ) combinations can be used for typical IDPs, but the phase behavior of a low‐complexity (LC) sequence FUS is only well described by one of these models, which highlights the need for a careful validation strategy based on multiple proteins. The CG HPS‐Urry model should enable accurate simulations of protein LLPS and provide a microscopically detailed view of molecular interactions.

     
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  3. Phase separation of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) commonly underlies the formation of membraneless organelles, which compartmentalize molecules intracellularly in the absence of a lipid membrane. Identifying the protein sequence features responsible for IDP phase separation is critical for understanding physiological roles and pathological consequences of biomolecular condensation, as well as for harnessing phase separation for applications in bioinspired materials design. To expand our knowledge of sequence determinants of IDP phase separation, we characterized variants of the intrinsically disordered RGG domain from LAF-1, a model protein involved in phase separation and a key component of P granules. Based on a predictive coarse-grained IDP model, we identified a region of the RGG domain that has high contact probability and is highly conserved between species; deletion of this region significantly disrupts phase separation in vitro and in vivo. We determined the effects of charge patterning on phase behavior through sequence shuffling. We designed sequences with significantly increased phase separation propensity by shuffling the wild-type sequence, which contains well-mixed charged residues, to increase charge segregation. This result indicates the natural sequence is under negative selection to moderate this mode of interaction. We measured the contributions of tyrosine and arginine residues to phase separation experimentally through mutagenesis studies and computationally through direct interrogation of different modes of interaction using all-atom simulations. Finally, we show that despite these sequence perturbations, the RGG-derived condensates remain liquid-like. Together, these studies advance our fundamental understanding of key biophysical principles and sequence features important to phase separation.

     
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