The effect of binary hydrophilic polymers on a pair of representative bio-macromolecules in a living cell has been examined. The results showed that these bio-macromolecules exhibited specific localization in cell-sized droplets that were spontaneously formed through water/water microphase segregation under crowding conditions with coexisting polymers. In these experiments, a simple binary polymer system with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and dextran (DEX) was used. Under the conditions of microphase segregation, DNA was entrapped within cell-sized droplets rich in DEX. Similarly, F-actin, linearly polymerized actin, was entrapped specifically within microdroplets rich in DEX, whereas G-actin, a monomeric actin, was distributed evenly inside and outside these droplets. This study has been extended to a system with both F-actin and DNA, and it was found that DNA molecules were localized separately from aligned F-actin proteins to create microdomains inside microdroplets, reflecting the self-emergence of a cellular morphology similar to a stage of cell division.
Keywords: DNA; liquids; microdroplets; phase separation; synthetic biology.
© 2018 The Authors. Published by Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.