Authors Sommer, J.-U. ; Merlitz, H. ; Schiessel, H.
Title Polymer-assisted condensation: a mechanism for hetero-chromatin formation and epigenetic memory
Date 14.10.2021
Number 59770
Abstract We consider the formation of droplets from a 2-component liquid mixture induced by a large polymer chain that has preferential solubility with one of the components. We assume that the liquid mixture is in a fully miscible state, but far above the critical interaction limit of the two species. We show that the polymer coil acts as a chemical potential trap, which can shift the mixture inside the polymer volume into the partially miscible state and thus triggers the formation of a polymer-bound droplet of the preferred solvent phase which we denote as polymer-assisted condensation (PAC). We propose a simple mean-field model which can predict the essential feature of PAC and perform molecular-dynamics simulations to show that the predicted phase behavior is robust against fluctuation effects. Our model aims to understand the formation of macromolecular condensates inside the cell nucleus, such as those formed by heterochromatin 1 (HP1). We propose that such droplets organize the spatial structure of chromatin into hetero- and euchromatin and ensure the propagation of epigenetic information through the cell generations.
Publisher bioRxiv the Preprint Server for Biology
Citation bioRxiv the Preprint Server for Biology (2021)

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