pH-Responsive Elastin-Like Polypeptide Designer Condensates

Rob de Haas, Ketan Ganar, Siddharth Deshpande, Renko de Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Biomolecular condensates are macromolecular complexes formed by liquid–liquid phase separation. They regulate key biological functions by reversibly compartmentalizing molecules in cells, in a stimulus-dependent manner. Designing stimuli-responsive synthetic condensates is crucial for engineering compartmentalized synthetic cells that are able to mimic spatiotemporal control over the biochemical reactions. Here, we design and test a family of condensate-forming, pH-responsive elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) that form condensates above critical pH values ranging between 4 and 7, for temperatures between 20 and at 37 °C. We show that the condensation occurs rapidly, in sharp pH intervals (ΔpH < 0.3). For eventual applications in engineering synthetic cell compartments, we demonstrate that multiple types of pH-responsive ELPs can form mixed condensates inside micron-sized vesicles. When genetically fused with enzymes, receptors, and signaling molecules, these pH-responsive ELPs could be potentially used as pH-switchable functional condensates for spatially controlling biochemistry in engineered synthetic cells
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45336-45344
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2023


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