A bending rigidity parameter for stress granule condensates
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScience Advances. 2023, 9 (20), eadg0432. 10.1126/sciadv.adg0432
Interfacial tension plays an important role in governing the dynamics of droplet coalescence and determining how condensates interact with and deform lipid membranes and biological filaments. We demonstrate that an interfacial tension-only model is inadequate for describing stress granules in live cells. Harnessing a high-throughput flicker spectroscopy pipeline to analyze the shape fluctuations of tens of thousands of stress granules, we find that the measured fluctuation spectra require an additional contribution, which we attribute to elastic bending deformation. We also show that stress granules have an irregular, nonspherical base shape. These results suggest that stress granules are viscoelastic droplets with a structured interface, rather than simple Newtonian liquids. Furthermore, we observe that the measured interfacial tensions and bending rigidities span a range of several orders of magnitude. Hence, different types of stress granules (and more generally, other biomolecular condensates) can only be differentiated via large-scale surveys.