Functional Implications of Intracellular Phase Transitions

Biochemistry. 2018 May 1;57(17):2415-2423. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.7b01136. Epub 2018 Jan 24.


Intracellular environments are heterogeneous milieus comprised of macromolecules, osmolytes, and a range of assemblies that include membrane-bound organelles and membraneless biomolecular condensates. The latter are nonstoichiometric assemblies of protein and RNA molecules. They represent distinct phases and form via intracellular phase transitions. Here, we present insights from recent studies and provide a perspective on how phase transitions that lead to biomolecular condensates might contribute to cellular functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Cell Membrane / genetics
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry*
  • Cytoplasm / genetics
  • Organelles / chemistry*
  • Organelles / genetics
  • Phase Transition
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA / genetics


  • Proteins
  • RNA