A framework for understanding the functions of biomolecular condensates across scales

Andrew S. Lyon, William B. Peeples, Michael K. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

202 Scopus citations


Biomolecular condensates are found throughout eukaryotic cells, including in the nucleus, in the cytoplasm and on membranes. They are also implicated in a wide range of cellular functions, organizing molecules that act in processes ranging from RNA metabolism to signalling to gene regulation. Early work in the field focused on identifying condensates and understanding how their physical properties and regulation arise from molecular constituents. Recent years have brought a focus on understanding condensate functions. Studies have revealed functions that span different length scales: from molecular (modulating the rates of chemical reactions) to mesoscale (organizing large structures within cells) to cellular (facilitating localization of cellular materials and homeostatic responses). In this Roadmap, we discuss representative examples of biochemical and cellular functions of biomolecular condensates from the recent literature and organize these functions into a series of non-exclusive classes across the different length scales. We conclude with a discussion of areas of current interest and challenges in the field, and thoughts about how progress may be made to further our understanding of the widespread roles of condensates in cell biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-235
Number of pages21
JournalNature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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