Sequence-Dependent Conformational Transitions of Disordered Proteins During Condensation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) can form biomolecular condensates through phase separation. It is recognized that the conformation of IDPs in the dense and dilute phases as well as at the interfaces of condensates can critically impact the resulting properties associated with their functionality. However, a comprehensive understanding of the conformational transitions of IDPs during condensation remains elusive. In this study, we employ a coarse-grained polyampholyte model, comprising an equal number of oppositely charged residues-glutamic acid and lysine-whereby conformations and phase behavior can be readily tuned by altering the protein sequence. By manipulating the sequence patterns from perfectly alternating to block-like, we obtain chains with ideal-like conformations to semi-compact structures in the dilute phase, while in the dense phase, the chain conformation is approximately that of an ideal chain, irrespective of the protein sequence. By performing simulations at different concentrations, we find that the chains assemble from the dilute phase through small oligomeric clusters to the dense phase, accompanied by a gradual swelling of the individual chains. We further demonstrate that these findings are applicable to several naturally occurring proteins involved in the formation of biological condensates. Concurrently, we delve deeper into the chain conformations within the condensate, revealing that chains at the interface show a strong sequence dependence, but remain more collapsed than those in the bulk-like dense phase. This study addresses critical gaps in our knowledge of IDP conformations within condensates as a function of protein sequence.

published proceedings

  • bioRxiv

altmetric score

  • 2.45

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, J., Sundaravadivelu Devarajan, D., Kim, Y. C., Nikoubashman, A., & Mittal, J.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Wang, Jiahui||Sundaravadivelu Devarajan, Dinesh||Kim, Young C||Nikoubashman, Arash||Mittal, Jeetain

publication date

  • January 2024