Abstract: Biomolecular condensates formed through the process of phase separation are emerging as potential mechanisms to address long-standing questions related to cell organization. Phase separation has been suggested to play a role in various biological processes, including chromatin organization, DNA repair, transcription, and gene regulation, among others. Aberrant phase separation of functional proteins has been linked to cellular stress, aging, and diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Conversely, harnessing the underlying principles of macromolecular phase separation has shown promise as a tool for designing and engineering intracellular compartments with novel functional capabilities. To leverage phase separation as a viable mechanism for both synthetic biology, we must decipher the relationships between amino acid sequences, phase behavior, condensate dynamics, and biological function. In this presentation, I will describe my group’s efforts in developing and applying physics-based simulation approaches, which, in conjunction with a combination of experimental techniques, can be used to uncover the physicochemical principles of biomolecular phase separation in general and provide insights specific to particular systems.
Bio: Jeetain Mittal is currently a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Before joining TAMU in 2021, he was at Lehigh University, where he joined as an assistant professor of Chemical Engineering in 2009 after finishing a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Laboratory of Chemical Physics at the National Institutes of Health. He received his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin, his master's degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, and his bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Punjab Technical University. More information about his research group can be found at: https://jeetain.wixsite.com/mittal-lab.