EPJ E Topical Issue: Physics of phase separation in cell biophysics: From non-equilibrium droplets to reaction-diffusion systems
- Published on 06 August 2020
Submissions are invited for a Topical Issue of EPJ E on Physics of phase separation in cell biophysics: From non-equilibrium droplets to reaction-diffusion systems.
Phase separation has emerged as a key physical concept in cellular biophysics [1,2]. For example, in living cells, the spatial and temporal organization of proteins, DNA as well as RNA, and their chemical reactions can be regulated by phase-separated droplets in the cytoplasm. In addition, phase separation has also been invoked as a key concept to understand prebiotic chemistry at the origin of life. These ideas were pioneered by Oparin  and Haldane  who proposed that macromolecular coacervates could have played an important role in organizing prebiotic chemical reactions. Both modern and early cells rely on a continuous in- and outflux of energy and matter, which drive chemical reactions away from equilibrium. The interplay of such reactions with the physics of phase separation gives rise to a rich set of phenomena such as the control of droplet size, position, and of biochemical reactions. The dynamics of phase separation in these chemically driven emulsions, also referred to as active emulsions , is therefore often quite different from those typically observed in soft matter systems which approach thermodynamic equilibrium.
In this Topical Issue, we aim to collect contributions on the physics of phase separation and emulsions far from thermodynamic equilibrium together with works on pattern formation in biological and prebiotic environments. Examples are the role of stochasticity in chemical pattern formation or the dynamics of biological condensates in the presence of chemical reactions. We also would like to attract contributions on generic approaches to complex fluid mixtures maintained far from equilibrium. One aim of this issue is to build a bridge between the different approaches to phase separating systems with chemical reactions and to unravel the principles underlying the formation and role of biological structures in living cells and at the origin of life.
The issue is open to everyone working in the field. We invite contributors to communicate their intention to submit manuscripts for this Topical Issue to the Guest Editors as soon as possible. Please provide the tentative title of the paper and a short abstract. The full manuscripts should be submitted before the deadline directly to the EPJE Editorial Office at https://articlestatus.edpsciences.org/is/epje/
 Hyman et al., Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 30, 39-58 (2014)
 Banani et al., Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol 18, 285–298 (2017)
 Oparin, A. I. The Origin of Life, 1st ed., New York: Macmillan, 1938. First published in Russia 1924.
 Haldane JBS, The origin of life. Rationalist Annual 148: 3–10 (1929)
 Weber et al., Rep. Prog. Phys. 83, 016401 (2019)
Deadline for submission: March 31, 2021
Submissions should be clearly identified as intended for the Topical Issue "Physics of phase separation in cell biophysics: From non-equilibrium droplets to reaction-diffusion systems". Papers will be published continuously and will appear (as soon as accepted) on the journal website. The electronic version of the Topical Issue will contain all accepted papers in the order of publication. All submitted papers will be refereed according to the usual high standards of the journal. More general information about EPJE including instructions for authors is available at http://epje.epj.org/.
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