Quantifying Coexistence Concentrations in Multi-Component Phase-Separating Systems Using Analytical HPLC

Anne Bremer, Ammon E. Posey, Madeleine B. Borgia, Wade M. Borcherds, Mina Farag, Rohit V. Pappu, Tanja Mittag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, evidence has accumulated to suggest that numerous instances of cellular compartmentalization can be explained by the phenomenon of phase separation. This is a process by which a macromolecular solution separates spontaneously into dense and dilute coexisting phases. Semi-quantitative, in vitro approaches for measuring phase boundaries have proven very useful in determining some key features of biomolecular condensates, but these methods often lack the precision necessary for generating quantitative models. Therefore, there is a clear need for techniques that allow quantitation of coexisting dilute and dense phase concentrations of phase-separating biomolecules, especially in systems with more than one type of macromolecule. Here, we report the design and deployment of analytical High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) for in vitro separation and quantification of distinct biomolecules that allows us to measure dilute and dense phase concentrations needed to reconstruct coexistence curves in multicomponent mixtures. This approach is label-free, detects lower amounts of material than is accessible with classic UV-spectrophotometers, is applicable to a broad range of macromolecules of interest, is a semi-high-throughput technique, and if needed, the macromolecules can be recovered for further use. The approach promises to provide quantitative insights into the balance of homotypic and heterotypic interactions in multicomponent phase-separating systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1480
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • biomolecular condensates
  • coexistence line
  • phase separation


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