Phase separating proteins and cellular switches

Condensed Matter lunchtime seminar

Phase separating proteins and cellular switches

  • Event time: 1:00pm
  • Event date: 2nd April 2007
  • Speaker: Richard Sear (Department of Physics University of Surrey)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

I will review experimental work on the behaviour in cells of a protein called Dishevelled. The unusual name derives from the fact that some mutations in Dishevelled cause fruit flies to develop with misaligned hairs on their bodies. The work has shown it apparently phase separating inside the cytosol of cells. Mutant variants of this protein that cannot phase separate, also cannot perform their biological function. This suggests that phase separation is required for the function of the protein. I will also introduce a simple model for phase separation inside the cell and show that its predictions are consistent with the experimental data. Finally, there is evidence of other proteins apparently phase separating inside cells. Cells may be exploiting the switch-like nature of phase separation, and/or its ability to dynamically create a compartment in the cytoplasm, for a number of different functions.

This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..

Find out more about Condensed Matter lunchtime seminars.