Rigidity enhances a magic-number effect in polymer phase separation

Bin Xu, Guanhua He, Benjamin G. Weiner, Pierre Ronceray, Yigal Meir, Martin C. Jonikas, Ned S. Wingreen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Cells possess non-membrane-bound bodies, many of which are now understood as phase-separated condensates. One class of such condensates is composed of two polymer species, where each consists of repeated binding sites that interact in a one-to-one fashion with the binding sites of the other polymer. Biologically-motivated modeling revealed that phase separation is suppressed by a “magic-number effect” which occurs if the two polymers can form fully-bonded small oligomers by virtue of the number of binding sites in one polymer being an integer multiple of the number of binding sites of the other. Here we use lattice-model simulations and analytical calculations to show that this magic-number effect can be greatly enhanced if one of the polymer species has a rigid shape that allows for multiple distinct bonding conformations. Moreover, if one species is rigid, the effect is robust over a much greater range of relative concentrations of the two species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1561
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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