The Department of Biomedicine
BBB seminar

BBB seminar: Michael Rosen

Cellular organization through liquid-liquid phase separation

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Michael Rosen
Department of Biophysics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA

Biomolecular condensates are two- and three-dimensional compartments in eukaryotic cells that concentrate specific collections of proteins and nucleic acids without an encapsulating membrane. Many condensates behave as dynamic liquids, and are believed to form through liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) driven by interactions between multivalent constituents. While we understand much about the physical mechanisms that promote and regulate LLPS, we know less about the biochemical functions that arise from this process, and many roles of LLPS in biology remain to be discovered. In my talk I will explain how my lab began our work on biological LLPS, and then discuss how assembly of two distinct signaling cascades into condensates causes modulation of their biochemical activities. Finally, I will discuss a new direction in the lab focused on understanding how chromatin may be organized by LLPS, and dynamically regulated by various remodeling machineries. These behaviors may contribute to formation of functionally distinct compartments in the eukaryotic nucleus, which are important to processes including gene regulation and DNA repair.

Chairperson: James B. Lorens, Department of Biomedicine