Cell Biology

Memories: Just a phase

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Science  29 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6396, pp. 1417-1418
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6396.1417-b

Recently, several proteins have been shown to phase-separate into liquid droplets within the cell. Dine et al. found that such protein droplets exhibit a robust form of spatial memory. The droplets maintained the spatial pattern of an inhibitor of droplet formation long after the inhibitor had been removed. Despite this persistence, individual droplets were highly dynamic, continuously exchanging their constituents with the cytosolic phase. The authors exploited their system to drive persistent, local regulation of cytoskeletal activity via dynamic clusters of receptor tyrosine kinases. Thus, protein phase separation may underlie the persistent polarization observed in many cellular and developmental processes.

Cell Syst. 10.1016/j.cels.2018.05.002 (2018).

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