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Science. 2020 Jan 24;367(6476):464-468. doi: 10.1126/science.aav6691.

Phase separation provides a mechanism to reduce noise in cells.

Author information

1
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, 01307 Dresden, Germany.
2
Center for Systems Biology Dresden, 01307 Dresden, Germany.
3
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, 01187 Dresden Germany.
4
Cluster of Excellence Physics of Life, TU Dresden, 01062 Dresden, Germany.
5
Center for Systems Biology Dresden, 01307 Dresden, Germany. julicher@pks.mpg.de hyman@mpi-cbg.de zechner@mpi-cbg.de.
6
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, 01307 Dresden, Germany. julicher@pks.mpg.de hyman@mpi-cbg.de zechner@mpi-cbg.de.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

Expression of proteins inside cells is noisy, causing variability in protein concentration among identical cells. A central problem in cellular control is how cells cope with this inherent noise. Compartmentalization of proteins through phase separation has been suggested as a potential mechanism to reduce noise, but systematic studies to support this idea have been missing. In this study, we used a physical model that links noise in protein concentration to theory of phase separation to show that liquid droplets can effectively reduce noise. We provide experimental support for noise reduction by phase separation using engineered proteins that form liquid-like compartments in mammalian cells. Thus, phase separation can play an important role in biological signal processing and control.

PMID:
31974256
DOI:
10.1126/science.aav6691

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