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University of Minnesota Colloquium: Rohit Pappu, Washington University

Physics of intracellular phase transitions and biomolecular condensates

Rohit Pappu, Washington University

Abstract: Spontaneous and driven phase transitions such as phase separation aided percolation transitions are thought to give rise to viscoelastic bodies known as membraneless biomolecular condensates. These bodies form and dissolve in response to stresses as well as changes in macromolecular concentrations and epigenetic modifications. Biomolecular condensates are implicated in affording spatial and temporal control over biochemical reactions and cellular processes. How do condensates form? What are the relevant physical principles that underlie the sequence grammar of molecules that drive phase transitions? And how are condensates regulated? Answers to these and other questions are emerging from a concerted effort that combines adaptations and generalizations of theoretical and computational approaches brought to bear on studying the phase transitions of associative polymers. The underlying stickers and spacers model will be introduced and connections to experimental observations and the emergence of a predictive framework for modeling biomolecular condensates will be discussed.

Location: Via Zoom