Curcumin inhibits liquid-liquid phase separation of fused in sarcoma and attenuates the sequestration of pyruvate kinase to restore cellular metabolism

Food Funct. 2023 May 22;14(10):4621-4631. doi: 10.1039/d2fo03224d.


The abnormal accumulation of fused in sarcoma (FUS) is a pathological hallmark in a proportion of patients with frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Therefore, the clearance of FUS aggregates is a possible therapeutic strategy for FUS-associated neurodegenerative diseases. This study reports that curcumin can strongly suppress FUS droplet formation and stress granule aggregation of FUS. Fluorescence spectra and isothermal titration calorimetry showed that curcumin can bind FUS through hydrophobic interactions, thereby reducing the β-sheet content of FUS. Aggregated FUS sequesters pyruvate kinase, leading to reduced ATP levels. However, results from a metabolomics study revealed that curcumin changed the metabolism pattern and differentially expressed metabolites were enriched in glycolysis. Curcumin attenuated FUS aggregation-mediated sequestration of pyruvate kinase and restored cellular metabolism, consequently increasing ATP levels. These results indicate that curcumin is a potent inhibitor of FUS liquid-liquid phase separation and provide novel insights into the effect of curcumin in ameliorating abnormal metabolism.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Curcumin* / pharmacology
  • Frontotemporal Dementia* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Pyruvate Kinase / genetics
  • Pyruvate Kinase / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Protein FUS / chemistry
  • RNA-Binding Protein FUS / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Protein FUS / metabolism
  • Sarcoma*


  • Pyruvate Kinase
  • Curcumin
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • RNA-Binding Protein FUS