Webinar - Interface resistance of biomolecular condensates
Dr. Yaojun Zhang
PhD, University of California, San Diego
Date & Time
Tuesday, 9 May 2023
It has recently become clear that the interiors of cells are organized in both space and time by non-membrane bound compartments, many of which form via liquid-liquid phase separation. These phase-separated condensates play key roles in processes ranging from transcription to translation, signaling, and more. A hallmark of these phase-separated condensates is the dynamic exchange of condensate components with the surroundings. Such material exchange can be key to condensate function, as the rate of component exchange can impact biochemical reaction rates in the condensates, the speed of response of condensates to a changing environment, and their number and sizes. How is this exchange rate controlled? Intuitively, this rate can be limited by the flux of materials from the dilute phase or by the speed of mixing inside the dense phase. Surprisingly, recent experiments suggest that this rate can also be limited by the dynamics of molecules at the droplet interface, implying the existence of an "interface resistance". We combined theory and simulation to show that an interface resistance can arise when incident molecules contact the interface without entering the dense phase. We find that such "bouncing" occurs for incident molecules that are capable of self-collapse into a non-sticking conformation. Our work highlights the underappreciated role of interface resistance in condensate exchange dynamics, with implications for natural and synthetic systems.