Can single-component protein condensates form multiphase architectures?
Knowles, Tuomas PJ
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA
National Academy of Sciences
MetadataShow full item record
Garaizar, A., Rene Espinosa, J., Joseph, J., Krainer, G., Shen, Y., Knowles, T. P., & Collepardo Guevara, R. (2021). Can single-component protein condensates form multiphase architectures?. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.83065
Phase-separated biomolecular condensates that contain multiple coexisting phases are widespread in vitro and in cells. Multiphase condensates emerge readily within multi-component mixtures of biomolecules (e.g. proteins and nucleic acids) when the different components present sufficient physicochemical diversity (e.g. in inter-molecular forces, structure, and chemical composition) to sustain separate coexisting phases. Because such diversity is highly coupled to the solution conditions (e.g. temperature, pH, salt, composition), it can manifest itself immediately from the nucleation and growth stages of condensate formation, develop spontaneously due to external stimuli, or progressively as the condensates age. Here, we investigate thermodynamic factors that can explain the intrinsic transformation of single-component condensates into multiphase architectures during the nonequilibrium process of ageing. We develop a multiscale model that integrates atomistic simulations of proteins, sequence-dependent coarse-grained simulations of condensates, and a minimal model of dynamically ageing condensates with non-conservative inter-molecular forces. Our nonequilibrium simulations of condensate ageing predict that single-component condensates that are initially homogeneous and liquid-like can transform into gel-core/liquid-shell or liquid-core/gel-shell multiphase condensates as they age, due to gradual and irreversible enhancement of inter-protein interactions. The type of multiphase architecture is determined by the ageing mechanism, the molecular organization of the gel and liquid phases, and the chemical make up of the protein. Notably, we predict that inter-protein disorder-to-order transitions within the prion-like domains of intracellular proteins could lead to the required non-conservative enhancement of inter-molecular interactions. Our study, therefore, predicts a potential mechanism <h4>Significance Statement</h4> Biomolecular condensates are highly diverse systems spanning not only homogeneous liquid droplets, but also gels, glasses, and even multiphase architectures that contain various coexisting liquid-like and/or gel-like inner phases. Multiphase architectures form when the different biomolecular components in a multi-component condensate establish sufficiently imbalanced inter-molecular forces to sustain different coexisting phases. While such a requirement seems, at first glance, impossible to fulfil for a condensate formed exclusively of chemically-identical proteins (i.e., single-component), our simulations predict conditions under which this may be possible. During condensate ageing, a sufficiently large imbalance in inter-molecular interactions can emerge intrinsically from the accumulation of protein structural transitions—driving even single-component condensates into nonequilibrium liquid-core/gel-shell or gel-core/liquid-shell multiphase architectures.
Adiran Garaizar acknowledges funding from the EPRSC (EP/N509620)
European Research Council (803326)
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.83065
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/335634
All Rights Reserved
Licence URL: http://www.rioxx.net/licenses/all-rights-reserved