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Interplay between Short-Range Attraction and Long-Range Repulsion Controls Reentrant Liquid Condensation of Ribonucleoprotein–RNA Complexes

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journal contribution
posted on 05.09.2019, 15:34 authored by Ibraheem Alshareedah, Taranpreet Kaur, Jason Ngo, Hannah Seppala, Liz-Audrey Djomnang Kounatse, Wei Wang, Mahdi Muhammad Moosa, Priya R. Banerjee
In eukaryotic cells, ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) form mesoscale condensates by liquid–liquid phase separation that play essential roles in subcellular dynamic compartmentalization. The formation and dissolution of many RNP condensates are finely dependent on the RNA-to-RNP ratio, giving rise to a windowlike phase separation behavior. This is commonly referred to as reentrant liquid condensation (RLC). Here, using ribonucleoprotein-inspired polypeptides with low-complexity RNA-binding sequences as well as an archetypal disordered RNP, fused in sarcoma, as model systems, we investigate the molecular driving forces underlying this nonmonotonous phase transition. We show that an interplay between short-range cation−π attractions and long-range electrostatic forces governs the heterotypic RLC behavior of RNP–RNA complexes. Short-range attractions, which can be encoded by both polypeptide chain primary sequence and nucleic acid base sequence, control the two-phase coexistence regime, regulate material properties of polypeptide–RNA condensates, and oppose condensate reentrant dissolution. In the presence of excess RNA, a competition between short-range attraction and long-range electrostatic repulsion drives the formation of a colloidlike cluster phase. With increasing short-range attraction, the fluid dynamics of the cluster phase is arrested, leading to the formation of a colloidal gel. Our results reveal that phase behavior, supramolecular organization, and material states of RNP–RNA assemblies are controlled by a dynamic interplay between molecular interactions at different length scales.