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How do membraneless organelles regulate phosphatases?

Magnus Kjærgaard has received DKK 5 million from the Carlsberg Foundation’s Semper Ardens Programme to study the regulation of membraneless organelles. Understanding how cells control such organelles is key to understanding the molecular processes of life, but also for understanding a whole new type of disease mechanisms where this assembly is disturbed.

Magnus Kjærgaard

Cells are divided into rooms called organelles, which allow each room to have a specialized function. Some of these organelles do not have an exterior “wall” and are known as “membrane-less organelles”. These organelles spontaneously assemble from the macromolecules of the cell, which allows them to appear when needed only to disappear again later. Magnus Kjærgaard and his research group will investigate a mechanism by which such organelles form and dissolve in response to the needs of the cell.

Biological macromolecules such as proteins, RNA and DNA do not only act as individuals. Some of their properties are emergent and only occur on when their numbers cross a certain threshold. A good example of this is formation of membrane-less organelles, which is likely a common mechanism for controlling biochemical processes.

Magnus Kjærgaard and his group will use biochemical methods to investigate how a type of enzyme – phosphatases – act inside membrane-less organelles. They will use synthetic organelles where they can control their architecture to allow them to reach general conclusions that apply to many different phosphatases and type of membraneless organelles.

For further information, please contact

Associate Professor Magnus Kjærgaarad
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University


The article is based on a news article from the Carlsberg Foundation