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A bending rigidity parameter for stress granule condensates

Law, Jack O.; Jones, Carl M.; Stevenson, Thomas; Williamson, Thomas A.; Turner, Matthew S.; Kusumaatmaja, Halim; Grellscheid, Sushma N.


Jack O. Law

Carl M. Jones

Thomas Stevenson

Thomas A. Williamson

Matthew S. Turner


Interfacial tension plays an important role in governing the dynamics of droplet coalescence and determining how condensates interact with and deform lipid membranes and biological filaments. We demonstrate that an interfacial tension-only model is inadequate for describing stress granules in live cells. Harnessing a high-throughput flicker spectroscopy pipeline to analyze the shape fluctuations of tens of thousands of stress granules, we find that the measured fluctuation spectra require an additional contribution, which we attribute to elastic bending deformation. We also show that stress granules have an irregular, nonspherical base shape. These results suggest that stress granules are viscoelastic droplets with a structured interface, rather than simple Newtonian liquids. Furthermore, we observe that the measured interfacial tensions and bending rigidities span a range of several orders of magnitude. Hence, different types of stress granules (and more generally, other biomolecular condensates) can only be differentiated via large-scale surveys.


Law, J. O., Jones, C. M., Stevenson, T., Williamson, T. A., Turner, M. S., Kusumaatmaja, H., & Grellscheid, S. N. (2023). A bending rigidity parameter for stress granule condensates. Science Advances, 9(20),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 12, 2023
Online Publication Date May 17, 2023
Publication Date May 19, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Sep 4, 2023
Journal Science Advances
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 20
Keywords Multidisciplinary
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Published Journal Article (1.3 Mb)


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Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2023 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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