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Active Coacervate Droplets as a Model for Membraneless Organelles and a Platform Towards Synthetic Life

C. Donau et.al. 2020 ChemRxiv https://doi.org/10.26434/chemrxiv.11648598.v1

21.01.2020

C. Donau, F. Späth, M. Sosson, B. Kriebisch, F. Schnitter, M. Tena-Solsona, H.-S. Kang, E. Salibi, M. Sattler, H. Mutschler and J. Boekhoven

ChemRxiv https://doi.org/10.26434/chemrxiv.11648598.v1

Abstract

Membraneless organelles like stress granules are active liquid-liquid phase-separated droplets that areinvolved in many intracellular processes. Their active and dynamic behavior is often regulated byATP-dependent reactions. However, how exactly membraneless organelles control their dynamic compositionremains poorly understood. Herein, we present a model for membraneless organelles based onRNA-containing active coacervate droplets regulated by a fuel-driven reaction cycle. These droplets emergewhen fuel is present, but decay without. Moreover, we find these droplets can transiently up-concentratefunctional RNA, and that this up-take is accelerated by the chemical reaction cycle. Finally, we show that intheir pathway towards decay, these droplets self-divide asymmetrically. Self-division combined withemergence, decay, rapid exchange of building blocks, and functionality are all hallmarks of life, and webelieve that our work could be a stepping stone towards its synthesis.