Research Focus

Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) occurs in living cells, in which liquid-like membrane-less compartments form. These protein enriched biomolecular condensates regulate biochemical and biophysical processes, but have been linked to formation of protein aggregates found in neurodegenerative diseases. LLPS stems from intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), where protein-protein interactions between regions of low complexity have been shown to be a major driving force. However, little is known about the role of the water solvent in this process. Why do two coexisting liquid phases that are entropically unfavorable form? How do properties of water inside biomolecular condensates differ from water outside? How do protein-water interactions, i.e. hydration water, contribute to driving LLPS?Our group studies macroscopic and microscopic solvent properties of biomolecular condensate systems. We use linear and nonlinear spectroscopic methods to probe the structure and dynamics of bulk and interfacial water. We aim to understand the underlying thermodynamic properties of protein-water interactions that lead to LLPS.

The stripping away of less favorable hydration water drives the liquid-liquid phase separation of intrinsically disordered proteins, leading to a constrained hydration environment within the phase separated condensates

Current news by this research group

Join the Adams Group as a PhD Student (m/f/d) to study the role of

The Adams group has an opening for a PhD student for the following project: Prevention of Intrinsically Disordered Protein Aggregation with Solvent Tuning: Unraveling the Role of Water in Condensate Aging Preferred Course of Study/Expertise of Candidate: Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry,…

Read More

Physics of Life Excellence Postdoctoral Fellowships

Join research groups at the Physics of Life (PoL) as a postdoc by applying to a PoL Excellence Postdoctoral Fellowship and benefit from up to 4-year funded position in association with PoL groups and the Mentorship program. Applicants should hold a PhD in Physics, Biology or related fields (at the…

Read More

The key role of solvent in condensation: Mapping water in liquid-liquid phase-separated FUS

What drives the formation of biomolecular condensates from proteins in water? The Adams group, in collaboration with colleagues from Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, measured the thermodynamic forces leading to the expulsion of water from condensates as they form through protein-protein…

Read More