Partitioning and Enhanced Self-Assembly of Actin in Polypeptide Coacervates. Academic Article uri icon


  • Biomolecules exist and function in cellular microenvironments that control their spatial organization, local concentration, and biochemical reactivity. Due to the complexity of native cytoplasm, the development of artificial bioreactors and cellular mimics to compartmentalize, concentrate, and control the local physico-chemical properties is of great interest. Here, we employ self-assembling polypeptide coacervates to explore the partitioning of the ubiquitous cytoskeletal protein actin into liquid polymer-rich droplets. We find that actin spontaneously partitions into coacervate droplets and is enriched by up to ?30-fold. Actin polymerizes into micrometer-long filaments and, in contrast to the globular protein BSA, these filaments localize predominately to the droplet periphery. We observe up to a 50-fold enhancement in the actin filament assembly rate inside coacervate droplets, consistent with the enrichment of actin within the coacervate phase. Together these results suggest that coacervates can serve as a versatile platform in which to localize and enrich biomolecules to study their reactivity in physiological environments.

publication date

  • April 10, 2018