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Drosophila embryo, smFISH for bcd RNA (magenta), P bodies (cyan), nuclei (orange).

Biomolecular condensates in early development


Dr Tim Weil

Biomolecular condensates are non-membrane bound assemblies, typically composed of proteins and RNAs. Often termed “bodies” or “granules", these intracellular compartments function as biochemical reaction crucibles and organisational hubs. Many condensates have been shown to be essential in early animal development including: P granules in C. elegans; Balbiani bodies in Xenopus and zebrafish; and processing bodies (P bodies) in Drosophila.

Recently, we have shown that P bodies in the Drosophila egg are critical for the storage of axis-patterning mRNAs and that they are primarily regulated by structurally distinct proteins and weak multivalent interactions. This project aims to further our understanding of in vivo condensates by exploring their formation, maintenance, transitions, and biological function. We will use physical, chemical and genetic tools to alter condensates and subsequent advanced imaging and biochemistry to assess the impact of these assays on mRNA, protein expression and condensate properties. Due to the highly conserved nature of biomolecular condensates, the results from this project will likely be applicable to other model systems and help inform work on human therapeutics and vaccines.

For more information please visit or contact Tim Weil via


Sankaranarayanan M et al., Adaptable P body physical states differentially regulate bicoid mRNA storage during early Drosophila development. Dev Cell. 2021; 56(20). doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.09.021

Shin Y and Bragwynne CP, Liquid phase condensation in cell physiology and disease. Science. 2017; 357(6357). doi: 10.1126/science.aaf4382.

Image caption: Drosophila embryo, smFISH for bcd RNA (magenta), P bodies (cyan), nuclei (orange).