Role of macromolecular phase separation in germline cell fate and totipotency
Cells organize biochemistry into compartments. Many of these compartments are not surrounded by membranes but assemble via liquid-liquid phase separation of proteins and RNAs from the surrounding cytoplasm or nucleoplasm. We are interested in understanding the rules that define the precise macromolecular compositions (i.e. specificity) in these compartments and how phase separation gives rise to unique biological functions. In particular, we address how a conserved liquid-like organelle, called ‘P granules’ in the nematode C. elegans, help maintain germline cell fate. In the short term, we will uncover novel mechanisms of RNA regulation that help maintain immortality of the germline. In the long term, our research could contribute to new cellular reprogramming strategies relevant to regenerative medicine.
Keywords: Phase separation, Non-membrane-bound compartments, P granules, germline cell fate, in vitro reconstitution
The group will start at IMBA in January 2019.