PerspectiveCell Biology

Beyond Oil and Water—Phase Transitions in Cells

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Science  31 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6098, pp. 1047-1049
DOI: 10.1126/science.1223728

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Contemporary biology has identified many proteins involved in different cellular processes, but we are far from understanding how they perform the tasks that cell functions require. How do collections of proteins and other molecules come together to form compartments (1) containing large numbers of macromolecular machines that execute specific and complex reactions? The search for underlying principles has been reinvigorated recently in part by insights into the role of phase transitions in organizing cellular compartments.