Accelerated reactions in condensed bio-matter?

phys.org | 6/19/2018 | Staff
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HITS researcher Dr. Kashif Sadiq explores ribonucleoprotein granules, a condensed form of bio-matter found inside cells. He investigates whether the rate of enzymatic reactions in these membrane-less granules is accelerated. If true, this would lead to new insights in how cells regulate their biochemistry and may shed light on the origins of life on Earth. The project is funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung with an "Experiment!" grant.

Cells are thought of as the basic unit of life. Each is a dynamic micro-world of billions of molecules involved in complex biochemical reactions. Cells control many of these internal reactions by physically separating the required molecules into membrane-bound compartments. But, remarkably, when subjected to stress, such as extreme temperatures, mechanical damage and toxins, cells can also form membrane-less granules. These granules often contain self-assembled, condensed mixtures of proteins and long biopolymers like ribonucleic acids (RNAs) - together known as ribonucleoproteins (RNPs).

Granules - Phases - Matter - Liquid - Gel

Excitingly, granules can co-exist in different phases of matter: liquid, gel, solid or even somewhere in between. And their function is still largely unknown. With theory and computer simulations, Dr. Kashif Sadiq from the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) wants to explore the biophysical properties of these membrane-less granules. His independent research project called "RNA Epicatalysis" just started and is funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung with an "Experiment!" grant for 18 months.

The main question Dr. Sadiq addresses in this project is whether the rate of enzymatic reactions in such granules might be accelerated. He aims to explore which factors affect and regulate their biomaterial properties and whether RNA...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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