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Membrane-Less Organelles in Cell Life and Disease

Life and Matter Sciences International Symposium Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 and 8 March 2023, 10:15 hours Sevilla

General information:

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

All Lectures will be given in English without simultaneous translation into Spanish.

Free admission. Necessary previous online registration. Limited capacity..


Miguel A. De la Rosa and Irene Díaz-Moreno. Institute for Chemical Research, cicCartuja, Universidad de Sevilla- CSIC

  • 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 7 - 8 March 2023, under the auspices of Ramón Areces Foundation 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-bound 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 concrete 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. No registration fee is required. 

Assistance will be recognized with 0.5 ECTS credits.

Tuesday, 7 March

9:30 h.



Opening Session

José María Medina
Vicepresident of Scientific Council of Fundación Ramón Areces.

José Luis de Justo Alpañés
President of the Royal Sevillian Academia of Sciences.

Isabel Varela Nieto
President of the Spanish Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Noureddine Khiar El Wahab
Director del Centro de Investigaciones Científicas “Isla de la Cartuja”.

Miguel A. De la Rosa and Irene Díaz-Moreno 
Simposium Organizers.


Stickers and Spacers Model for Phase Transitions of Multivalent Proteins

Rohit Pappu
Washington University in St. Louis, MO, EE.UU.




Stabilization of Biomolecular Condensates against Maturation by Heterotypic Interactions

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




Phase Separation in Biology & Disease; the Nucleolus and Beyond

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


Polyproline II Helix Associations in Biomolecular Condensates

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


The Structural Architecture of an α-synuclein Toxic Oligomer

Salvador Ventura
Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, ES.

Wednesday, 8 March


Conversion-limited Phase Separation in Biomolecular Condensation

Chiu Fan Lee
Imperial College London, London, UK.




DYRK kinases: Molecular Regulators of Intracellular Condensates 

Lucas Pelkmans  
University of Zurich, Zurich, CH.


Mitochondrial Shot towards Histone Chaperone Condensates in the Nucleus

Irene Díaz-Moreno
Institute for Chemical Research, cicCartuja, Seville, ES.




View of Membrane-Less Organelles from ‘Big Three’

Stella M. Hurtley, PhD
Deputy Editor, Science.

Florian Ullrich, PhD
Associate Editor, Nature.

Lara Szewczak, PhD
Deputy Editor, Cell.

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