Role of Liquid-Liquid Separation in Endocrine and Living Cells

Kazuhisa Akiba, Yuko Katoh-Fukui, Kei Yoshida, Satoshi Narumi, Mami Miyado, Yukihiro Hasegawa, Maki Fukami

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Recent studies have revealed that every eukaryotic cell contains several membraneless organelles created via liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS). LLPS is a physical phenomenon that transiently compartmentalizes the subcellular space and thereby facilitates various biological reactions. LLPS is indispensable for cellular functions; however, dysregulated LLPS has the potential to cause irreversible protein aggregation leading to degenerative disorders. To date, there is no systematic review on the role of LLPS in endocrinology. Evidence acquisition: We explored previous studies which addressed roles of LLPS in living cells, particularly from the viewpoint of endocrinology. To this end, we screened relevant literature in PubMed published between 2009 and 2021 using LLPS-associated keywords including "membraneless organelle,""phase transition,"and "intrinsically disordered,"and endocrinological keywords such as "hormone,""ovary,""androgen,"and "diabetes."We also referred to the articles in the reference lists of identified papers. Evidence synthesis: Based on 67 articles selected from 449 papers, we provided a concise overview of the current understanding of LLPS in living cells. Then, we summarized recent articles documenting the physiological or pathological roles of LLPS in endocrine cells. Conclusions: The discovery of LLPS in cells has resulted in a paradigm shift in molecular biology. Recent studies indicate that LLPS contributes to male sex development by providing a functional platform for SOX9 and CBX2 in testicular cells. In addition, dysregulated LLPS has been implicated in aberrant protein aggregation in pancreatic β-cells, leading to type 2 diabetes. Still, we are just beginning to understand the significance of LLPS in endocrine cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbvab126
JournalJournal of the Endocrine Society
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes


  • cellular body
  • paraspeckle
  • phase transition
  • sex development
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of Liquid-Liquid Separation in Endocrine and Living Cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this