Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Living cells as test tubes

Thermodynamic principles are used to map the phase behavior of a tunable protein-binding system under crowded cellular conditions. This study marks a substantial step forward in relating molecular interactions to material properties and cellular processes involving protein self-assembly.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Studying self-assembly of well-defined protein binding systems using a unified toolset.


  1. 1.

    Banani, S. F., Lee, H. O., Hyman, A. A. & Rosen, M. K. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 18, 285–298 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Brangwynne, C. P., Tompa, P. & Pappu, R. V. Nat. Phys. 11, 899 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Murthy, A. C. et al. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 26, 637–648 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Vernon, R. M. et al. eLife 7, e31486 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Heidenreich, M. et al. Nat. Chem. Biol. (2020).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Conicella, A. E. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 117, 5883–5894 (2020).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Schuster, B. S. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 117, 11421–11431 (2020).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Martin, E. W. et al. 367, 694–699 (2020).

  9. 9.

    Falahati, H. & Wieschaus, E. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 1335–1340 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Tauber, D., Tauber, G. & Parker, R. Trends Biochem. Sci. (2020).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jeetain Mittal.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mammen Regy, R., Mittal, J. Living cells as test tubes. Nat Chem Biol 16, 934–935 (2020).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing