Phase separation of biomolecules can facilitate their spatiotemporally regulated self-assembly within living cells. Due to the selective yet dynamic exchange of biomolecules across condensate interfaces, condensates can function as reactive hubs by concentrating enzymatic components for faster kinetics. The principles governing this dynamic exchange between condensate phases, however, are poorly understood. In this work, we systematically investigate the influence of client-sticker interactions on the exchange dynamics of protein molecules across condensate interfaces. We show that increasing affinity between a model protein scaffold and its client molecules causes the exchange of protein chains between the dilute and dense phases to slow down and that beyond a threshold interaction strength, this slowdown in exchange becomes substantial. Investigating the impact of interaction symmetry, we found that chain exchange dynamics are also considerably slower when client molecules interact equally with different sticky residues in the protein. The slowdown of exchange is due to a sequestration effect, by which there are fewer unbound stickers available at the interface to which dilute phase chains may attach. These findings highlight the fundamental connection between client-scaffold interaction networks and condensate exchange dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number145102
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 14 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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