Skip to main content

Tim Nott's group studies how living cells create internal compartments, or organelles, to isolate material and facilitate chemical reactions. Some organelles such as the Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, and peroxisomes are enclosed by a lipid bilayer that physically separates cellular regions with mutually exclusive chemical environments such as high and low pH or oxidising and reducing conditions. Others such as nucleoli, stress granules, and germ granules completely lack a surrounding membrane and instead comprise micron-sized drops of concentrated protein and nucleic acid. These membraneless organelles play important roles including controlling cell growth, responding to stresses and viral infection, and protecting the integrity of genetic material being passed from one generation to the next. As well as being essential in healthy cells, dysfunction of membraneless organelles is associated with human diseases including neurodegeneration and cancer, making them important therapeutic targets.

Despite having been observed in eukaryotic cells for nearly 200 years, we still know relatively little about the organisational principles that control the assembly and chemical properties of membraneless organelles.

The Nott Group uses chemical, cell biological, and biophysical approaches to study how and why cells create membraneless organelles and perform certain chemical reactions inside them.