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Read our reviews to learn about “Liquid-liquid phase separation in biology”, “Are aberrant phase transitions a driver of cellular aging?”, and “Biomolecular condensates: organizers of cellular biochemistry”

Everything you ever wanted to know about our current understanding of cytoplasmic organization by phase separation, from the physics behind it to the consequences for disease, in one comprehensive review:

Liquid-liquid phase separation in biology.
Hyman AA, Weber CA, Jülicher F.
Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2014 Oct 11;30:39-58.

2016 UPDATE: Also read a new review and perspective by Tony Hyman and Simon Alberti in Bioessays:

Are aberrant phase transitions a driver of cellular aging?
Alberti S, Hyman AA.
Bioessays. 2016 Oct;38(10):959-68. doi: 10.1002/bies.201600042. Epub 2016 Aug 24.

2017 UPDATE: New review in Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology!

Biomolecular condensates: organizers of cellular biochemistry. [PDF]
Banani SF, Lee HO, Hyman AA, Rosen MK.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Feb 22.

Impact of water in a water-surface

Image credit: Marlon Felippe, Wikimedia Commons

Tony in today’s DNN newspaper

The Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten newspaper ran a story today about Tony receiving the Schleiden Medal! You can read the story online here.

Local Nucleation of Microtubule Bundles through Tubulin Concentration into a Condensed Tau Phase – congratulations to Amayra Hernández-Vega and colleagues on their paper in Cell Reports!

Our latest publication is now out in Cell Reports. In this work, we show that the protein Tau can phase separate into liquid-like droplets in vitro. These droplets can concentrate tubulin, which enables the polymerization of microtubule bundles that deform the droplets into rod-like structures. Read the full paper online (open access full text) and see the graphical abstract below (stay tuned for a video abstract, too!).

 

This work was a collaboration with the labs of Stefan Diez and Simon Alberti and was led by our postdoc Amayra Hernández-Vega. Congratulations to all involved! 

 

Read a story about the work on Alzforum.

This work was selected for the journal cover. The watercolor painting shows the retraction of tau from rod-like microtubule bundles into spherical drops and the simultaneous debundling of microtubules after treatment with heparin. Artwork by Julia Eichhorn.

Tony receives Schleiden Medal from German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

On behalf of the whole Hyman lab, we want to congratulate Tony on this great honor, which recognizes his achievements and outstanding work in the field of cell biology. You can read the press release on the MPI-CBG website, the text of which is also below.


photo by Tristan Vostry

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina presents Anthony Hyman, director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden with the Schleiden Medal. The scientist receives the award for outstanding scientific work in the field of cell biology. The award ceremony will take place at the festive opening of the Annual Meeting of the Leopoldina in Halle (Saale) on Friday, 22 September 2017. 

 

Prof. Dr. Anthony Hyman (born 1962) is one of the most influential cell biologists of our time. His research focusses on processes of cell division and the cytoskeleton. One major achievement is the functional genome research on embryos of the nematode C. elegans. Hyman carried out the first genome-wide RNA screening with C. elegans, in order to systematically study its genome. He also comprehensively described the cell division in the C. elegans embryo and identified the significant genes involved in this process. These findings fundamentally changed the view on the development of genetic defects.

 

Another aspect of Hyman’s research deals with functional compartments in the cytoplasm which do not have a membrane. They are formed when liquid components separate from other components in the cell. Hyman was able to show which proteins control the formation of such liquid compartments and how this process is reversed, for example by misfolded proteins. In this case, proteins clump and can become the trigger for degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

 

Anthony Hyman studied zoology at the University of London. He received his PhD in 1988 from King’s College in Cambridge (UK) and subsequently worked at the University of California in San Francisco (USA). In 1993 he moved to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. Since 1998, Anthony Hyman has served as a Director of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. Anthony Hyman was awarded the EMBO Gold Medal in 2003 and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize in 2011 for his achievements.

 

The Schleiden Medal is named after the academy member Matthias Jacob Schleiden (1804-1881). The botanist is one of the founders of the cell theory. The medal has been awarded by the Leopoldina since 1955 for outstanding findings in the field of cell biology.

 

Contact:
Caroline Wichmann
Head of the Press and Public Relations Department
Tel.: 0345 472 39 – 800
E-mail: presse@leopoldina.org

New video abstract! Building synthetic centrosomes.

Watch our latest video abstract, created by Jeff Woodruff, describing our recent publication in Cell. 

 

Congratulations to Ceciel Jegers, Boehringer Ingelheim Fellowship winner!

Our PhD student Ceciel Jegers has just been awarded a Boehringer Ingelheim Fellowship to pursue her PhD studies on multi-enzyme condensates. Read more here. Way to go, Ceciel!

Molecular biology: A liquid reservoir for silent chromatin

Tony and our postdoc Adam Klosin have written a Nature “News & Views” about chromatin compaction in liquid droplets based on two articles in the latest issue of Nature (Strom et al & Larson et al). Read the full News & Views piece here.  

Klosin A, Hyman AA. Molecular biology: A liquid reservoir for silent chromatin. Nature (2017). [PDF]

The Centrosome Is a Selective Condensate that Nucleates Microtubules by Concentrating Tubulin – congratulations to Jeff Woodruff and colleagues on their paper in Cell!

Our latest publication is out now in Cell! In this work, led by Jeff Woodruffwe used defined components to reconstitute a minimal centrosome in vitro that can nucleate microtubule asters.  Our results suggest that the centrosome acts a selective phase that nucleates microtubules by concentrating microtubule polymerases and soluble tubulin.  

 

Read the full paper in Cell, and watch the video abstract below!

 



The centrosome is a selective condensate that nucleates microtubules by concentrating tubulin.

Jeffrey B. Woodruff, Beatriz Ferreira Gomes, Per O. Widlund, Julia Mahamid, Alf Honigmann, Anthony A. Hyman. 

Cell, 2017. 169(6)1066-1077.

Stem cells: the new “model organism”

In a new perspective published in Molecular Biology of the Cell, Tony Hyman and David Drubin “argue that combined advances in genome editing, stem cell production, and organoid derivation from stem cells represent a revolution in cell biology.”  These technological advances mean that stem cell studies could now replace molecular and cell biology studies traditionally carried out in human tissue culture cells, which have significant genome abnormalities and do not represent a normal physiological state. Read more in the full article in MBOC.

 

Stem cells: the new “model organism”
David G. Drubin and Anthony A. Hyman. Mol Biol Cell, 2017. 28(11)1409-1411.

PNAS Journal Club, ACS Spotlights, & Press for “ATP as a biological hydrotrope”

Our article “ATP as a biological hydrotrope” is featured this month as a Journal Club highlight in PNAS

Additionally, ACS Chemical Biology covered the article in its Spotlights section.

It has also been featured in the following news articles and press releases:

Chemical & Engineering News

MPI-CBG Press Release (also in German)

C2W (in Dutch)

Two preprints: Tau phase separation; Parallel temperature adaptation

The Hyman lab is proud to publish preprints, which we post in parallel to journal submission. You can find our latest manuscripts on bioRxiv, and we welcome your feedback:

Local Nucleation Of Microtubule Bundles Through Tubulin Concentration Into A Condensed Tau PhaseAmayra Hernández-Vega, Marcus Braun, Lara Scharrel, Marcus Jahnel, Susanne Wegmann, Bradley T. Hyman, Simon Alberti, Stefan Diez, Anthony A. Hyman. 

Interview with Kate Lee in ‘Research in Germany’

You can now read an interview with our postdoc Kate Lee in “Research in Germany”, where she discusses her work on phase transitions and neurodegenerative disease, her decision to move to Europe, and what she enjoys most about working at the MPI-CBG. Congrats, Kate!

An aberrant phase transition of stress granules triggered by misfolded protein and prevented by chaperone function

New work from the Hyman and Alberti labs uncovers an important role for chaperone proteins in preventing aberrant phase transitions in stress granules. See a brief synopsis below and read the full paper online. Congratulations to all of the authors on this work!

Synopsis

The presence of misfolded protein in stress granules alters their dynamic state and induces a phase transition. This process is counteracted by chaperones and autophagy, acting as a stress granule quality control system.

  • Misfolded proteins have a tendency to aggregate in stress granules (SGs).

  • Misfolded proteins promote a conversion of SGs into an aberrant solid‐like state.

  • Chaperones prevent the formation of aberrant SGs and promote SG disassembly.

  • Persistent aberrant SGs are targeted to the aggresome for degradation.

An aberrant phase transition of stress granules triggered by misfolded protein and prevented by chaperone function.
Mateju D, Franzmann TM, Patel A, Kopach A, Boczeck EE, Maharana S, Lee HO, Carra S, Hyman AA, Alberti S.
The EMBO Journal. (2017) e201695957. [FullText]

ATP as a biological hydrotrope — congratulations to Avinash, Liliana, and colleagues on their paper in Science, in collaboration with Yamuna Krishnan from UChicago!

Our latest publication, in collaboration with Yamuna Krishnan in Chicago, is out today in Science! In this work, we show that ATP can act as a biological hydrotrope, keeping proteins soluble. Hydrotropes are amphiphilic small molecules that solubilize hydrophobic molecules in aqueous solutions. While ATP is most commonly known as the energy source for cells, there is ~100 times more ATP in the cell than it needs for energy-related purposes. We show that at this high physiological concentration, ATP can act as a hydrotrope, both preventing the formation of and dissolving previously formed protein aggregates. This has interesting implications for aggregation associated with age-related neurodegenerative diseases, as the levels of ATP in cells decline with age. Read the full paper in Science (free full text/PDF links here) and watch our video abstract below or on sciencesketches.org! You can also read a perspective on our paper by Allyson Rice and Mike Rosen in the same issue of Science. 

 

 

ATP as a biological hydrotrope 
Avinash Patel*, Liliana Malinovska*, Shambaditya Saha, Jie Wang, Simon Alberti, Yamuna Krishnan#, Anthony A Hyman#
Science. 2017 May 18;356(6339):753-756. (links to free Full Text & PDF versions can be found on our Publications Page)

* first authors
# corresponding authors

Kate Lee selected as L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Rising Talent

Congratulations to our phenomenal postdoc, Kate Lee, on this prestigious honor!

“Kate Lee, postdoc at the MPI-CBG Hyman Lab, is the first scientist living and working in Germany to be selected as “International Rising Talent”. The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Rising Talents are presented to fifteen promising young women, from each world region (Africa and the Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America), in order to support and encourage them to pursue their scientific careers.

Kate Lee works on understanding how proteins turn into pathological aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases upon aging. Her findings can contribute to a better understanding of diseases like Parkinson’s and become the foundation of potential new therapies.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science initiative began 19 years ago. Since that inaugural year, the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO have strived to support and recognize accomplished women researchers, to encourage more young women to enter the profession and to assist them once their careers are in progress. Much remains to be done with regard to gender balance in science. Most tellingly, women account for only 28% of the world’s researchers according to the UNESCO Science Report 2015. There are still great barriers that discourage women from entering the profession and obstacles continue to block progress for those already in the field.”

– MPI-CBG Press Release

Advice for young group leaders

Yesterday, Tony gave the EMBO Keynote Lecture at the Young Investigators’ Meeting in Goa, India. In his lecture, titled “From zoology to physics — how to avoid staying in your comfort zone,” Tony gave advice on how to be a successful young group leader.

Below, you can watch another talk he gave on a similar topic at the MPI-CBG in 2014. Tony spoke as part of a summer seminar series hosted by MPI-CBG postdocs during which group leaders gave thoughtful and personal advice about how to start your own group. Tony focused on the main goal of starting your own group — to discover something important — and how to stay on track towards achieving that goal.

New Review: “Biomolecular condensates: organizers of cellular biochemistry”

Congratulations to our postdoc Kate Lee, Tony, and co-authors Salman Banani and Mike Rosen of UTSW on their new review, “Biomolecular condensates: organizers of cellular biochemistry.” Read the full article using the links below.

Biomolecular condensates: organizers of cellular biochemistry. [PDF]
Banani SF, Lee HO, Hyman AA, Rosen MK.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Feb 22.

Biomolecular condensates are micron-scale compartments in eukaryotic cells that lack surrounding membranes but function to concentrate proteins and nucleic acids. These condensates are involved in diverse processes, including RNA metabolism, ribosome biogenesis, the DNA damage response and signal transduction. Recent studies have shown that liquid–liquid phase separation driven by multivalent macromolecular interactions is an important organizing principle for biomolecular condensates. With this physical framework, it is now possible to explain how the assembly, composition, physical properties and biochemical and cellular functions of these important structures are regulated.

The Benefits of a “Central Service” for Biology Preprints

Visit the ASAPbio website to learn about a new proposal to create a Central Service for biology preprints. The relationship of this Central Service to existing preprint servers would be akin to the relationship between PubMed and scientific journals. ASAPbio has released a Request for Applications (RFA) for the development of a Central Service for biology preprints, proposals for which are due on April 30, 2017.

How did life begin? Dividing droplets could hold the answer. (Article in Quanta Magazine)

The story of our publication in Nature Physics, “Growth and division of active droplets provides a model for protocells,” has been picked up by Quanta Magazine (and re-published in Wired Magazine as well).

Read the full story here! 

Lucy Reading-Ikkanda/Quanta Magazine

Cover of Trends in Molecular Medicine

Belated congratulations are in order to the authors and illustrators of the cover article for the September issue of Trends in Molecular Medicine! See the cover and associated description below.

Common molecular pathways in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Dementia. Jochen H. Weishaupt, Tony Hyman, Ivan Dikic. Trends in Molecular Medicine, 2016. [PDF][PubMed]

Web

“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia are related dementias. On pages 769–783, Dikic and colleagues discuss recent findings associating autophagy, vesicle trafficking, and RNA metabolism to neuronal death, identifying common links between these dementias. The cover evokes the therapeutic potential of manipulating such cellular processes to “eat away” at pathogenicity in the brain. Yellow ‘Pacmen’ symbolize ‘autophagy’. Yellow dots represent ‘physiological stress granules’, maturing into ‘bad stress granule monsters’ (light blue, center). The monsters symbolize ‘mitochondria’, ‘protein aggregates’ and ‘aberrant stress granules’. Illustration by Julia Eichhorn. Cover design by Catarina Sacristán.”

New publication: Growth and division of active droplets provides a model for protocells

The latest work in our ongoing collaboration with the lab of Frank Jülicher is now out in Nature Physics. Congratulations to all the authors!

Growth and division of active droplets provides a model for protocells
David Zwicker, Rabea Seyboldt, Christoph A. Weber, Anthony A. Hyman & Frank Jülicher, Nature Physics (2016)

Abstract
It has been proposed that during the early steps in the origin of life, small droplets could have formed via the segregation of molecules from complex mixtures by phase separation. These droplets could have provided chemical reaction centres. However, whether these droplets could divide and propagate is unclear. Here we examine the behaviour of droplets in systems that are maintained away from thermodynamic equilibrium by an external supply of energy. In these systems, droplets grow by the addition of droplet material generated by chemical reactions. Surprisingly, we find that chemically driven droplet growth can lead to shape instabilities that trigger the division of droplets into two smaller daughters. Therefore, chemically active droplets can exhibit cycles of growth and division that resemble the proliferation of living cells. Dividing active droplets could serve as a model for prebiotic protocells, where chemical reactions in the droplet play the role of a prebiotic metabolism.

  • Archives


  • Selected Essays

















  • Recent Videos


    An interview with Tony about Phase Transitions and Disease


    Phase separation in cell polarity: Saha et al, Cell 2016


    Encouraging Innovation, iBiology.org


    The genetics linking temperature and fertility in worms: Leaver et al, Biology Open 2016


    Cell PaperFlick on Phase Transitions in Disease


    Check out this playlist to watch all the videos in our "Two Minute Talk" Series


    Ways of Growing, a film created for the MitoSys Project


    What is a Discovery?


    Embryonic Development of C.elegans