Mechanisms and Consequences of Macromolecular Phase Separation

Cell. 2016 May 19;165(5):1067-1079. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.05.026.


Over a century ago, colloidal phase separation of matter into non-membranous bodies was recognized as a fundamental organizing principal of cell "protoplasm." Recent insights into the molecular properties of such phase-separated bodies present challenges to our understanding of cellular protein interaction networks, as well as opportunities for interpreting and understanding of native and pathological genetic and molecular interactions. Here, we briefly review examples of and discuss physical principles of phase-separated cellular bodies and then reflect on how knowledge of these principles may direct future research on their functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colloids / chemistry
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Dequalinium / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Organelles / chemistry
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Colloids
  • Proteins
  • Dequalinium