Biophysical studies of phase separation integrating experimental and computational methods Academic Article uri icon


  • Biomolecular phase separation that contributes to the formation of membraneless organelles and biomolecular condensates has recently gained tremendous attention because of the importance of these assemblies in physiology, disease, and engineering applications. Understanding and directing biomolecular phase separation requires a multiscale view of the biophysical properties of these phases. Yet, many classic tools to characterize biomolecular properties do not apply in these condensed phases. Here, we discuss insights obtained from spectroscopic methods, in particular nuclear magnetic resonance and optical spectroscopy, in understanding the molecular and atomic interactions that underlie the formation of protein-rich condensates. We also review approaches closely coupling nuclear magnetic resonance data with computational methods especially coarse-grained and all-atom molecular simulations, which provide insight into molecular features of phase separation. Finally, we point to future methodolical developments, particularly visualizing biophysical properties of condensates in cells.

published proceedings

  • Current Opinion in Structural Biology

author list (cited authors)

  • Fawzi, N. L., Parekh, S. H., & Mittal, J.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM