Progress on Crowding Effect in Cell-like Structures

Chao Li, Xiangxiang Zhang, Mingdong Dong*, Xiaojun Han

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review


Several biological macromolecules, such as proteins, nucleic acids, and polysaccharides, occupy about 30% of the space in cells, resulting in a crowded macromolecule environment. The crowding effect within cells exerts an impact on the functions of biological components, the assembly behavior of biomacromolecules, and the thermodynamics and kinetics of metabolic reactions. Cell-like structures provide confined and independent compartments for studying the working mechanisms of cells, which can be used to study the physiological functions arising from the crowding effect of macromolecules in cells. This article mainly summarizes the progress of research on the macromolecular crowding effects in cell-like structures. It includes the effects of this crowding on actin assembly behavior, tubulin aggregation behavior, and gene expression. The challenges and future trends in this field are presented at the end of the paper.

Original languageEnglish
Article number593
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • actin assembly behavior
  • cell-like structures
  • crowding effect
  • gene expression
  • tubulin aggregation behavior


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