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Membrane-Less Organelles in Cell Life and Disease

Life and Matter Sciences International Symposium Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 and 11 March 2020, 9:00 hours Sevilla

General information:

Venue: Isla de la Cartuja. Scientific Research Center (cicCartuja). Avda. Américo Vespucio 49. 41092 Sevilla.

Free admission. Limited capacity. The lectures will be taught in English without simultaneous translation into Spanish.

In cooperation with:

Real Academia Sevillana de Ciencias


Miguel Ángel de la Rosa

Irene Díaz-Moreno

Register online

  • Description
  • Programme

The International Symposium on Membrane-Less Organelles in Cell Life and Disease will be focused on the characterization of cellular organelles lacking membrane boundaries, as well as on their involvement in cell metabolism and disease progression. It will be held in Seville (Spain), on 10 - 11 March 2020, under the auspices of Fundación Ramón Areces at cicCartuja, a joint research center of the University of Seville (US), the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) and the Autonomous Government of Andalusia.

How do cells enable internal spatiotemporal control of complex biochemical reactions? They have partly solved this question by creating compartments, or organelles, that allow distinct chemical environments. Most of these compartments are surrounded by membranes (nucleus, mitochondria, chloroplasts, lisosomes, etc.). It is thus easy to understand how such membrane-delimited compartments cohabit and work in the cells. On the contrary, many other compartments (nucleoli, centrosomes, Cajal bodies, stress granules, etc.) lack membranes and explaining their coexistence inside the cells is harder. Such membrane-less organelles (MLOs) remain separated in the cell by avoiding the mixture of their components with the surroundings. The following questions soon arise: Are there molecules transported in and out of MLOs? How fast must the diffusion of the components within MLOs be to guarantee efficient chemical reactions?

Recent experimental evidences have shown that many MLOs are liquid droplets formed by phase separation, thereby allowing MLO components to be rapidly concentrated in a specific place in the cell. The transient assembly of liquid drops is driven by i) multivalent weak interactions between signaling domains repetitively included in proteins and RNA, and ii) substantial conformational heterogeneities of intrinsically disordered regions. Under cell pathology and devastating aggregation diseases, liquid-liquid demixing can eventually turn into metastable condensates of intracellular matter, such as glass/hydrogels or amyloid-like fibers, that undergo liquid-solid phase transitions.

Altogether, liquid-liquid phase separation provides a simple but smart mechanism for the cell to control the spatial localization and processing of molecules, without relying on membrane boundaries.

Cellular biology approaches combined with quantitative biophysical and structural tools are required to elucidate how such non-equilibrium events in living cells control intracellular phase behavior. In this Symposium, the confluence between physicists and cellular and molecular biologists will let us go deeply into the formation of MLOs by liquid-liquid phase transitions and the formation of drops (or droplets) inside the cell. This Symposium aims at gathering pioneering scientists in such a cutting-edge interdisciplinary topic to discuss on MLOs and their impact on diseases. Because of its relevance and novelty, the Symposium will host a round table with senior editors of the three top journals influencing science policy (Cell, Nature, Science).

The Symposium is open to the academic community and research centers. Free admision. The lectures will be taught in English without simultaneous translation into Spanish. To contact the organizers of the symposium, please write to: mlo2020_areces@ciccartuja.es.

With the aim of encouraging as much as possible students’ participation, the University of Seville will award 0.5 credits (ECTS) for those undergraduates attending and completing the symposium.

Tuesday, 10 March

9:00 h.


9:30 h.

Opening Session

José María Medina 
Scientific Council Fundación Ramón Areces. 

José Luis de Justo Alpañés
President of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Seville. 

Miguel Ángel de la Rosa 
Institute for Chemical Research, cicCartuja. Universidad de Sevilla- CSIC. Symposium coordinator.

Irene Díaz-Moreno 
Institute for Chemical Research, cicCartuja. Universidad de Sevilla- CSIC. Symposium coordinator.

 10:00 h.

Stickers and Spacers Model for Phase Transitions of Multivalent Proteins

Rohit Pappu
Washington University in St. Louis, MO, USA.

10:45 h.

A Key Role of Biomolecular Condensation in the Mechanism of Hormone Action 

Xavier Salvatella
Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona, Spain.


11:30 h.



12:00 h.


Phase Separation as an Organizing Principle in Biology

Simon Alberti 
Max Planck Institute MPI-CBG, Dresden, Germany.

12:45 h.

Macromolecular Phase Separation in Bacterial Division 

Germán Rivas 
Centre for Biological Research, Madrid, Spain.


13:30 h.



15:30 h.


Phase Separation in Biology & Disease; the Nucleolus and Beyond 

Richard W. Kriwacki
St. Jude Children´s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA.­­­­­­­

16:15 h.

Polyproline II Helix Associations in Biomolecular Condensates 

Douglas V. Laurents 
Institute of Physical Chemistry Rocasolano, Madrid, Spain.

17:00 h.

hnRNPD L Phase Separation is Regulated by Alternative Splicing and Disease-causing Mutations Accelerate Amyloid Fibrillization 

Salvador Ventura
Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.



Wednesday, 11 March

10:00 h.

Physics of Active Emulsions: Implications for Stress Granules 

Chiu Fan Lee 
Imperial College London, London, UK.

10:45 h.

The Mutational Landscape of a Prion-like Domain 

Ben Lehner 
Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain.


11:30 h.



12:00 h.


DYRK kinases: Molecular Regulators of Intracellular Condensates 

Lucas Pelkmans
University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

12:45 h.

Mitochondrial Shot towards Histone Chaperone Condensates in the Nucleus 

Irene Díaz-Moreno
University of Seville, Seville, Spain.


13:30 h.



15:30 h.


Vision of Membrane-Less Organelles from ‘Big Three’ 

Stella M. Hurtley
Deputy Editor, Science.

Sadaf Shadan
Senior Editor, Nature.

Lara Szewczak
Deputy Editor, Cell.

17:00 h.

Closing remarks 



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