Volume 137, Number 6, March 2022
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Section||Condensed Matter: Electronic Structure, Electrical, Magnetic and Optical Properties|
|Published online||06 May 2022|
Liquid demixing in elastic networks: Cavitation, permeation, or size selection?
1 Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, CINAM, Turing Center for Living Systems - Marseille, France
2 Center for the Physics of Biological Function, Princeton University - Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
3 Department of Mechanics and Engineering Science, BIC-ESAT, College of Engineering, Peking University Beijing 100871, PRC
4 Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University - Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
5 Princeton Institute of Materials, Princeton University - Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
Received: 17 July 2021
Accepted: 18 February 2022
In cells, phase-separated liquid condensates interact mechanically with surrounding elastic networks such as chromatin and cytoskeleton. By considering the trade-offs between elastic, wetting, and interfacial energies, we theoretically show that three droplet phases can be thermodynamically stable: macroscopic droplets that either cavitate or permeate the network, and mesh-size–limited microdroplets. We show that network strain stiffening further enhances this latter size-limitation effect. Our theory predicts the possibility of yet-unobserved droplet phases in the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm.
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