Cells need to organise and regulate their biochemical processes both in space and time in order to adapt to their surrounding environment. Spatial organisation of cellular components is facilitated by a complex network of membrane bound organelles. Both the membrane composition and the intra-organellar content of these organelles can be specifically and temporally controlled by imposing gates, much like bouncers controlling entry into night-clubs. In addition, a new level of compartmentalisation has recently emerged as a fundamental principle of cellular organisation, the formation of membrane-less organelles. Many of these structures are dynamic, rapidly condensing or dissolving and are therefore ideally suited to be involved in emergency cellular adaptation to stresses. Remarkably, the same proteins have also the propensity to adopt self-perpetuating assemblies which properties fit the needs to encode cellular memory. Here, we review some of the principles of phase separation and the function of membrane-less organelles focusing particularly on their roles during stress response and cellular memory.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited