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Liquid-Liquid Phase-Separated Systems from Reversible Gel-Sol Transition of Protein Microgels.

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Abstract

Liquid-liquid phase-separated biomolecular systems are increasingly recognized as key components in the intracellular milieu where they provide spatial organization to the cytoplasm and the nucleoplasm. The widespread use of phase-separated systems by nature has given rise to the inspiration of engineering such functional systems in the laboratory. In particular, reversible gelation of liquid-liquid phase-separated systems could confer functional advantages to the generation of new soft materials. Such gelation processes of biomolecular condensates have been extensively studied due to their links with disease. However, the inverse process, the gel-sol transition, has been less explored. Here, a thermoresponsive gel-sol transition of an extracellular protein in microgel form is explored, resulting in an all-aqueous liquid-liquid phase-separated system with high homogeneity. During this gel-sol transition, elongated gelatin microgels are demonstrated to be converted to a spherical geometry due to interfacial tension becoming the dominant energetic contribution as elasticity diminishes. The phase-separated system is further explored with respect to the diffusion of small particles for drug-release scenarios. Together, this all-aqueous system opens up a route toward size-tunable and monodisperse synthetic biomolecular condensates and controlled liquid-liquid interfaces, offering possibilities for applications in bioengineering and biomedicine.

Description

Keywords

all-aqueous emulsions, biomolecular condensates, elongated microgels, gel-sol transition, gelatin, liquid-liquid phase separation, macromolecular crowding

Journal Title

Adv Mater

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0935-9648
1521-4095

Volume Title

33

Publisher

Wiley

Rights

All rights reserved
Sponsorship
European Research Council (337969)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (841466)