Biochemistry 2018 Jan 19. Epub 2018 Jan 19.
Department of Molecular Medicine and USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Research Institute, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida , Tampa, Florida 33612, United States.
Despite the common practice of presenting structures of biological molecules on an empty background and the assumption that interactions between biological macromolecules take place within the inert solvent, water represents an active component of various biological processes. This Perspective addresses indispensable, yet mostly ignored, roles of water in biological liquid-liquid phase transitions and in the biogenesis of various proteinaceous membrane-less organelles. We point out that changes in the structure of water reflected in the changes in its abilities to donate and/or accept hydrogen bonds and participate in dipole-dipole and dipole-induced dipole interactions in the presence of various solutes (ranging from small molecules to synthetic polymers and biological macromolecules) might represent a driving force for the liquid-liquid phase separation, define partitioning of various solutes in formed phases, and define the exceptional ability of intrinsically disordered proteins to be engaged in the formation of proteinaceous membrane-less organelles. Read More