Biological Physics of Biomolecular Condensates: Bridging Theory and Experiment

Coordinators: Jerelle Joseph, Frank Jülicher, Stephanie Weber, and David Zwicker

Living cells have evolved robust mechanisms to coordinate the activity of many different molecules in space and time. For example, cells concentrate specific molecules into membrane-less compartments called biomolecular condensates. Experimentalists have generated an ever-growing list of condensates, which participate in diverse biological functions, such as gene expression, signal transduction, and neurotransmission. In addition, these condensates exhibit a wide range of lifetimes, sizes, mechanochemical properties, and architectures. Despite recent progress in characterizing molecular interactions leading to condensation, how the emergent physical properties of condensates mediate their biological functions is poorly understood. This conference will bring together a diverse group of theorists and experimentalists currently probing this structure-function problem of biomolecular condensates. The overarching goals of the conference are to:

  • Discuss developments in theoretical frameworks and simulation approaches for describing biomolecular condensates
  • Introduce new experimental methods for characterizing condensates and delineating their functions
  • Highlight new findings on physicochemical principles shaping condensates
  • Address challenges in mapping in silico and in vitro droplets to condensates inside cells

Ultimately, participants will build cross-disciplinary bridges to propel this exciting field forward.