Enrichment of soluble tubulin at centrosomes

Recent work from Dresden (2017) suggests that centrosomes are condensates that nucleate in part by concentrating soluble tubulin. Here we show that indeed tubulin is extremely concentrated at centrosome in C. elegans embryos, suggesting that such a tubulin concentration could indeed play a key role in nucleation.




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Tony wins Carl Zeiss lecture award

The award to Tony comes from the German Society for Cell Biology for excellent achievements in research and was established in 1990 by the company Zeiss. Tony will lecture on September 27th in Tübingen during the fall conference of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) and the German Society for Cell Biology (DGZ). read more: Press release from the MPI-CBG and press release from Zeiss

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Small molecules that dissolve stress granules

In ALS, a mutated nuclear protein, FUS (fused in sarcoma), mislocalises to the cytoplasm and aggregates in stress granules. This leads to a liquid to solid transition of the granules and a consequent degeneration of the motor neuron (motor neuron die-back ). We show that lipoamide and lipoic acid can prevent the aggregation of FUS and consequently the die-back of patient-derived motor neurons in cell culture. It also reduced protein aggregation in C. elegans and induced the recovery of motor defects in transgenic D. melanogaster expressing a mutant FUS.

This study takes advantage of the recent advances in understanding liquid-liquid phase separation in health and disease. Read more.

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Suzanne Eaton

We, past and current members of the Hyman lab, are reeling from the sudden and tragic loss of Suzanne Eaton. She was a wonderful person who lives on in our hearts. In this difficult time, we stand together with her family and colleagues.


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FlexiBAC, our open source protein expression system

One of great things here at the MPI-CBG are our Service and Facilities, among them the protein expression facility (PEPC), which has been heavily used by us in recent years. In collaboration with Jeff Woodruff, a former postdoc, they developed FlexiBAC, an amazingly versatile protein expression system in insect cells, which was developed with a huge range of different constructs and tags, which might fit your needs as well.

Have a look at the original publication here .Plasmids are available at Addgene.

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We held the first EMBO phase separation course here at the MPI-CBG

From 4th to 13th February we taught our first EMBO course

Methods for Studying Phase Separation in Biology here in Dresden at the MPI-CBG and CSBD.

The course was organized together with the Tang and Alberti lab, including morning lectures, theoretical or experimental parts during the day and a relaxing evening part. Importantly, we included as well the project ideas of our participants. They came from 12 different nations in Europe, Asia and America and made the course truly international and fun!

tweezer fun
condensates in cells

evening relaxation

Surprise from our participants!

We are still amazed by the great feed back we got, it was a big success for all of us, and most importantly for our participants!

Check out @Hymanlab and #EMBOPhaseSeparation on Twitter for more

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Phase separation buffers noise in cells

Now, the paper got published in Science! Congratulations to Adam and all the coauthors. And check out the perspective article about the paper from the Brangwynne lab (@Brangwynnelab), as well as the press article from the CSBD and from the CBG .

We are excited to share our pre-print which explores how phase separation affects noise in cells. The question of how cells manage to tightly control protein concentrations has been a long-standing challenge in biology. In collaboration with the Zechner and Jülicher groups, we now show in theory and experiments that liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) can be a very effective mechanism to buffer protein concentrations against gene expression noise.

The protein condensates used in our study dissolve during mitosis so that the protein concentration in the dilute, bulk phase is no longer buffered and variability becomes apparent.

In conclusion our results suggest a novel role of phase separation for gene regulation and biological information processing.

See below a mitosis movie of the tagged DDX4 protein construct

Click for the pdf of the preprint or go to the biorxiv page

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Rheology of protein condensates using optical traps

An increasing number of proteins with intrinsically disordered domains have been shown to phase separate in buffer to form liquidlike phases. These protein condensates serve as simple models for the investigation of the more complex membraneless organelles in cells. To understand the function of such proteins in cells, the material properties of the condensates they form are important.

Fig: scheme of the set up based on a dual optical trap


Louise and her coworkers now developed a novel method based on optical traps to study the frequency-dependent rheology and the surface tension of P-granule protein PGL-3 condensates as a function of salt concentration. Have a look at the pdf or follow the link below.


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How do you choose a research topic?

Choosing a research topic is an important decision at any level. The choice shapes decisions about what graduate lab to join, which post-doctoral position to pursue, how to start an independent lab, and what companies might make good employers. The thing to remember is that “the choice” can, and perhaps should, be made many times during a career, and each time, it can take an exciting new turn. Lara Szewczak sat down with Amy Gladfelter and Tony Hyman to talk about what it takes for a researcher to pivot—to decide that they want to embark on a new line of research. What does it mean at different points in a career, and how can you motivate colleagues to follow?


that’s where the pivot begins—is the mystery. I think the pace and the pressure to produce—the sense that you need to be in the thing that is getting published right now—is covering up a lot of the mystery.You need mentors to say, ‘No, this is how you will actually get grants. This is how you’ll get recognized by something a bit different.’


Read the interview of Amy Gladfelter and Tony!

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Phase Transitions form Virus Replication Compartments in Cells

Zoltan’s paper is out!

Former postdoc Zoltan worked with the Whelan lab on VSV (Vesicular Stomatitis Virus). RNA viruses like VSV compartmentalize their replication machinery to evade detection by the host. However, it has been unclear how the virus can concentrate the machinery for RNA synthesis. Now it is shown that the replication compartments have liquid like properties and form by phase separation. Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) seems to play an important role in host-pathogen interactions.


Dynamics of VSV inclusions


Phase Transitions Drive the Formation of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Replication Compartments. Heinrich BS, Maliga Z, Stein DA, Hyman AA, Whelan SPJ. MBio. 2018 Sep 4;9(5). pii: e02290-17. doi: 10.1128/mBio.02290-17.



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  • News Archive

  • Selected Videos

    iBio video about P granule formation

    An interview with Tony about Phase Transitions and Disease

    Phase separation in cell polarity: Saha et al, Cell 2016

    Encouraging Innovation, iBiology.org

    The genetics linking temperature and fertility in worms: Leaver et al, Biology Open 2016

    Cell PaperFlick on Phase Transitions in Disease

    Check out this playlist to watch all the videos in our "Two Minute Talk" Series

    Ways of Growing, a film created for the MitoSys Project

    What is a Discovery?

    Embryonic Development of C.elegans