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Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) emerges as a fundamental underlying mechanism for the biological organization, especially the formation of membraneless organelles (MLOs) hosting intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) as scaffolds. Nucleic acids are compositional biomacromolecules of MLOs with wide implications in normal cell functions as well as in pathophysiology caused by aberrant phase behavior. Exploiting a minimalist artificial membraneless organelles (AMLO) from LLPS of IDP-mimicking polymer-oligopeptide hybrid (IPH), we investigated the effect of nucleic acids with different lengths and sequence variations on AMLO. The behavior of this AMLO in the presence of DNAs and RNAs resembled natural MLOs in multiple aspects, namely, modulated propensity of formation, morphology, liquidity, and dynamics. Both DNA and RNA could enhance the LLPS of AMLO, while compared with RNA, DNA had a higher tendency to solidify and diminish dynamics thereof. These findings suggest its potential as a concise model system for the understanding of the interaction between nucleic acids and natural MLOs and for studying the molecular mechanism of diseases involving MLOs.


Jianhui Liu, Fariza Zhorabek, Ying Chau. Nucleic Acids Modulate Liquidity and Dynamics of Artificial Membraneless Organelles. ACS macro letters. 2022 Apr 19;11(4):562-567

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PMID: 35575335

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