Eukaryotic cells contain assemblies of RNAs and proteins termed RNA granules. Many proteins within these bodies contain KH or RRM RNA-binding domains as well as low complexity (LC) sequences of unknown function. We discovered that exposure of cell or tissue lysates to a biotinylated isoxazole (b-isox) chemical precipitated hundreds of RNA-binding proteins with significant overlap to the constituents of RNA granules. The LC sequences within these proteins are both necessary and sufficient for b-isox-mediated aggregation, and these domains can undergo a concentration-dependent phase transition to a hydrogel-like state in the absence of the chemical. X-ray diffraction and EM studies revealed the hydrogels to be composed of uniformly polymerized amyloid-like fibers. Unlike pathogenic fibers, the LC sequence-based polymers described here are dynamic and accommodate heterotypic polymerization. These observations offer a framework for understanding the function of LC sequences as well as an organizing principle for cellular structures that are not membrane bound.
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