Organization of Cytoplasm

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Current Research

The Hyman lab studies how phase separation impacts the formation of membraneless compartmentalisation of macromolecules inside living cells. Stemming from our work on C.elegans in 2009 (Brangwynne et al. 2009), observations over the last decade have shown that many non-membrane compartments have liquid-like properties (Banani et al. 2017). The liquid-like nature of condensates is ascertained using microscopy in cells by observing fusion events, round shape, rapid diffusion of components, and a predictable response to changes in thermodynamic parameters such as temperature. Phase separation phenomena can be used to describe the formation of P granules (Brangwynne et al. 2009), nucleoli (Brangwynne et al. 2011), stress granules and centrosomes (Brangwynne et al. 2009) and estimates suggest that at least 30% of proteins in the nucleus are in such compartments (Thul et al. 2017). To capture the role of soft matter physics in describing these compartments, we have termed them biomolecular condensates (Banani et al. 2017). For more details visit:


  • Klosin A, Oltsch F, Harmon T, et al. Phase separation provides a mechanism to reduce noise in cells. Science. 2020;367(6476):464-468. doi:10.1126/science.aav6691
  • Alberti S, Saha S, Woodruff JB, Franzmann TM, Wang J, Hyman AA. A User's Guide for Phase Separation Assays with Purified Proteins. J Mol Biol. 2018;430(23):4806-4820. doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2018.06.038
  • Patel A, Malinovska L, Saha S, et al. ATP as a biological hydrotrope. Science. 2017;356(6339):753-756. doi:10.1126/science.aaf6846
  • Banani SF, Lee HO, Hyman AA, Rosen MK. Biomolecular condensates: organizers of cellular biochemistry. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2017;18(5):285-298. doi:10.1038/nrm.2017.7
  • Patel A, Lee HO, Jawerth L, et al. A Liquid-to-Solid Phase Transition of the ALS Protein FUS Accelerated by Disease Mutation. Cell. 2015;162(5):1066-1077. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.07.047
  • Hyman AA, Simons K. Cell biology. Beyond oil and water–phase transitions in cells. Science. 2012;337(6098):1047-1049. doi:10.1126/science.1223728
  • Hyman AA, Brangwynne CP. Beyond stereospecificity: liquids and mesoscale organization of cytoplasm. Dev Cell. 2011;21(1):14-16. doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2011.06.013
  • Brangwynne CP, Mitchison TJ, Hyman AA. Active liquid-like behavior of nucleoli determines their size and shape in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108(11):4334-4339. doi:10.1073/pnas.1017150108
  • Brangwynne CP, Eckmann CR, Courson DS, et al. Germline P granules are liquid droplets that localize by controlled dissolution/condensation. Science. 2009;324(5935):1729-1732. doi:10.1126/science.1172046

Methodological and technical expertise

  • BAC recombineering
  • In vitro Phase Separation Assays
  • C.elegans transgenomics
  • Protein expression and purification