Membrane-less Organelles

I love this post, Bye Bye Stoichiometry by Luysii, for couple of reasons.

First, it is about a new, startling new frontier in cell biology, namely membrane-less organelles. These are phase-separated organelles in cells that are looking more more like they’re going to be really important. Instead being bound by a lipid bilayer, they’re bounded by a phase separation. You can read about it in this article, Protein Phase Separation: A New Phase in Cell Biology and in this one. It appears these membranes are important in gene transcription, in pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, and many other biological processes.

For example, the DNA repeats associated with ALS appear to affect the phase separation-mediated organelles, because RNA containing those repeats are important in the phase separation.

Second, Luysii’s second order conclusion/observation is that this upends the normal flow of scientific knowledge: math->physica->chemistry->biology. This is a case of a biology observation that will lead to new work in chemistry, as physcial chemists get busy trying to understand these new organelles,

One thought on “Membrane-less Organelles”

  1. Richard:

    Thanks for your comments. We’ve been away or I’d have responded sooner.

    I sent the post to one of the authors at MIT and got the following back.


    Excellent post! Revolution happening here. Just hosted a small meeting of physicists, chemists and biologists to share thoughts about this new field of soft matter biophysics. Stay tuned.


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