Biomolecular Condensates: Sequence Determinants of Phase Separation, Microstructural Organization, Enzymatic Activity, and Material Properties. Academic Article uri icon


  • This perspective article highlights recent progress and emerging challenges in understanding the formation and function of membraneless organelles (MLOs). A long-term goal in the MLO field is to identify the sequence-encoded rules that dictate the formation of compositionally controlled biomolecular condensates, which cells utilize to perform a wide variety of functions. The molecular organization of the different components within a condensate can vary significantly, ranging from a homogeneous mixture to core-shell droplet structures. We provide many examples to highlight the richness of the observed behavior and potential research directions for improving our mechanistic understanding. The tunable environment within condensates can, in principle, alter enzymatic activity significantly. We examine recent examples where this was demonstrated, including applications in synthetic biology. An important question about MLOs is the role of liquid-like material properties in biological function. We discuss the need for improved quantitative characterization tools and the development of sequence-structure-dynamics relationships.

published proceedings

  • J Phys Chem B

altmetric score

  • 19.65

author list (cited authors)

  • Schuster, B. S., Regy, R. M., Dolan, E. M., Kanchi Ranganath, A., Jovic, N., Khare, S. D., Shi, Z., & Mittal, J.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Schuster, Benjamin S||Regy, Roshan Mammen||Dolan, Elliott M||Kanchi Ranganath, Aishwarya||Jovic, Nina||Khare, Sagar D||Shi, Zheng||Mittal, Jeetain

publication date

  • April 2021