The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

Science + Engineering... Conquering Cancer Together

The Condense-ated Version

Two new studies from the laboratories of KI members Richard Young and Phillip Sharp give a clearer picture of how specialized droplets called condensates may govern the transcription—or conversion—of DNA into RNA. Transcription relies on the coordination of multiple molecules and processes to orchestrate gene activity and regulation. Emerging research into the mechanisms behind these functions point to condensates as a key element in facilitating the necessary interactions.

In a Molecular Cell study, researchers found that weak interactions among disordered regions of transcription factors and other molecules may help determine whether a condensate forms at a stretch of DNA that regulates gene activity. Read more

A Nature study found that separate condensates form for transcription initiation and for splicing and transcriptional elongation, and that the phosphorylation of RNA polymerase II (one component of the transcription machinery) changes a protein’s affinity for one condensate type or the other. Read more.

Young and others have formed a company called Dewpoint Therapeutics to translate condensate biology into potential treatments for a wide variety of diseases, including cancer.