Volume 5, 2022
|Number of page(s)||13|
|Section||Life Sciences - Medicine|
|Published online||30 June 2022|
Membraneless physiology of the living cell. The past and the present
Laboratory of Cell Physiology, Institute of Cytology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Tikhoretsky Ave 4, St. Petersburg 194064, Russia
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 25 May 2022
Since the 1880s, the concept of compartmentalizing through membranes has taken a firm place in cell physiology and has defined the objects, methods, and goals of physiologists’ research for decades. A huge mass of biologists know about the important role of intra-membrane pumps, channels, and lipids, and various hypotheses about the origin of life often begin with explanations about how the lipid membrane occurred, without which it is impossible to imagine the origin of a living cell. Against this background, there was a dissonance of statements that there are membraneless organelles in the cell, the functions of which are rapidly expanding under our eyes. Physically, they are similar to coacervate droplets, which from time to time were used to explain the origin of life, and now the coacervates are being more and more often discussed when describing the physics of the nucleus and cytoplasm of modern cells. However, ideas about the coacervate nature of cytoplasm/protoplasm originated in the first half of the 19th Century, when the contents of cells were likened to jelly, but this approach gradually faded into the shadows. Nevertheless, limited research in this area continued and was completed in the form of a membraneless cell physiology. Now that the focus of attention has turned to membraneless compartmentalization, it’s time to remember the past. The sorption properties of proteins are the physical basis of membraneless cell because of water adsorbed by proteins changes the physical state of any biomolecular system, from supramolecular and subcellular structures to the cell as a whole. A thermodynamic aqueous phase is formed because adsorbed water does not mix with ordinary water and, in this cause, is separated from the surrounding solution in the form of a compartment. This article discusses the fundamental physical properties of such a phase – a biophase. As it turned out, the Meyer–Overton rule, which led to the idea of a lipid membrane, also applies to membraneless condensates.
Key words: Adsorption / Hydrogen bonds / Intrinsically disordered proteins / Membraneless organelles / Meyer–Overton rule / Physical state of water / Physiology
© V.V. Matveev, Published by EDP Sciences, 2022
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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