Liquid-liquid phase separation is responsible for formation of P granules, nucleoli, and other membraneless subcellular organelles composed of RNA and proteins. Efforts to understand the physical basis of liquid organelle formation have thus far focused on intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) as major components that dictate occurrence and properties. Here, we show that complex coacervates composed of low complexity RNA (polyuridylic acid, polyU) and short polyamines (spermine and spermidine) share many features of IDP-based coacervates. PolyU/polyamine coacervates compartmentalize biomolecules (peptides, oligonucleotides) in a sequence- and length-dependent manner. These solutes retain mobility within the coacervate droplets, as demonstrated by rapid recovery from photobleaching. Coacervation is reversible with changes in solution temperature due to changes in the polyU structure that impact its interactions with polyamines. We further demonstrate that lipid vesicles assemble at the droplet interface without impeding RNA entry/egress. These vesicles remain intact at the interface and can be released upon temperature-induced droplet dissolution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces