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Liquid–liquid Phase Separation, Membrane-less Organelles, Intrinsically Disordered Proteins, Intrinsically Disordered Regions, Viral Factories, Viral Inclusion Bodies, Viral Infection-related Mlos, Protein–protein Interactions, Post-translational Modifications

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Liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) is responsible for the formation of so-called membrane-less organelles (MLOs) that are essential for the spatio-temporal organization of the cell. Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) or regions (IDRs), either alone or in conjunction with nucleic acids, are involved in the formation of these intracellular condensates. Notably, viruses exploit LLPS at their own benefit to form viral replication compartments. Beyond giving rise to biomolecular condensates, viral proteins are also known to partition into cellular MLOs, thus raising the question as to whether these cellular phase-separating proteins are drivers of LLPS or behave as clients/regulators. Here, we focus on a set of eukaryotic proteins that are either sequestered in viral factories or colocalize with viral proteins within cellular MLOs, with the primary goal of gathering organized, predicted, and experimental information on these proteins, which constitute promising targets for innovative antiviral strategies. Using various computational approaches, we thoroughly investigated their disorder content and inherent propensity to undergo LLPS, along with their biological functions and interactivity networks. Results show that these proteins are on average, though to varying degrees, enriched in disorder, with their propensity for phase separation being correlated, as expected, with their disorder content. A trend, which awaits further validation, tends to emerge whereby the most disordered proteins serve as drivers, while more ordered cellular proteins tend instead to be clients of viral factories. In light of their high disorder content and their annotated LLPS behavior, most proteins in our data set are drivers or co-drivers of molecular condensation, foreshadowing a key role of these cellular proteins in the scaffolding of viral infection-related MLOs.

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International Journal of Molecular Sciences, v. 24, issue 3, art. 2151