Impact of wet-dry cycling on the phase behavior and compartmentalization properties of complex coacervates

Wet-dry cycling on the early Earth is thought to have facilitated production of molecular building blocks of life, but its impact on self-assembly and compartmentalization remains largely unexplored. Here, we investigate dehydration/rehydration of complex coacervates, which are membraneless compartments formed by phase separation of polyelectrolyte solutions. Solution compositions are identified for which tenfold water loss results in maintenance, disappearance, or appearance of coacervate droplets. Systems maintaining coacervates throughout the dehydration process are further evaluated to understand how their compartmentalization properties change with drying. Although added total RNA concentrations increase tenfold, RNA concentration within coacervates remains steady. Exterior RNA concentrations rise, and exchange rates for encapsulated versus free RNAs increase with dehydration. We explain these results in light of the phase diagram, with dehydration-driven ionic strength increase being particularly important in determining coacervate properties. This work shows that wet-dry cycling can alter the phase behavior and protocell-relevant functions of complex coacervates.



Work Title Impact of wet-dry cycling on the phase behavior and compartmentalization properties of complex coacervates
Open Access
  1. Hadi Fares
  2. Christine Keating
  1. protocells
  2. Coacervates
  3. polyelectrolytes
  4. wet-dry cycle
  5. RNA
License CC BY 4.0 (Attribution)
Work Type Article
  1. Nature Communications
Publication Date October 27, 2020
DOI doi:10.26207/667s-sm05
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Related URLs
Deposited October 23, 2020




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Final_main_text_Figures.pptx
  • Added
  • Added
  • Added Supplementary_Information_figures.pptx
  • Added Creator Hadi Fares
  • Added Creator Christine Keating
  • Published

Version 2

  • Created
  • Updated Publisher, Publisher Identifier (DOI), Related URLs, and 1 more Show Changes
    • Nature Communications
    Publisher Identifier (DOI)
    Related URLs
    Publication Date
    • 2020-10-27
  • Updated Creator Hadi Fares
  • Updated Creator Christine Keating
  • Deleted Final_main_text_Figures.pptx
  • Deleted
  • Deleted
  • Deleted Supplementary_Information_figures.pptx
  • Added Figure files_Main
  • Added Figure files_Supporting
  • Added File manifest.txt
  • Added Final main text Figures.pptx
  • Added Supplementary Information figures.pptx
  • Published
  • Updated