Purine biosynthetic enzymes assemble into liquid-like condensates dependent on the activity of chaperone protein HSP90

Anthony M. Pedley, Jack P. Boylan, Chung Yu Chan, Erin L. Kennedy, Minjoung Kyoung, Stephen J. Benkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Enzymes within the de novo purine biosynthetic pathway spatially organize into dynamic intracellular assemblies called purinosomes. The formation of purinosomes has been correlated with growth conditions resulting in high purine demand, and therefore, the cellular advantage of complexation has been hypothesized to enhance metabolite flux through the pathway. However, the properties of this cellular structure are unclear. Here, we define the purinosome in a transient expression system as a biomolecular condensate using fluorescence microscopy. We show that purinosomes, as denoted by formylglycinamidine ribonucleotide synthase granules in purine-depleted HeLa cells, are spherical and appear to coalesce when two come into contact, all liquid-like characteristics that are consistent with previously reported condensates. We further explored the biophysical and biochemical means that drive the liquid–liquid phase separation of these structures. We found that the process of enzyme condensation into purinosomes is likely driven by the oligomeric state of the pathway enzymes and not a result of intrinsic disorder, the presence of low-complexity domains, the assistance of RNA scaffolds, or changes in intracellular pH. Finally, we demonstrate that the heat shock protein 90 KDa helps to regulate the physical properties of the condensate and maintain their liquid-like state inside HeLa cells. We show that disruption of heat shock protein 90 KDa activity induced the transformation of formylglycinamidine ribonucleotide synthase clusters into more irregularly shaped condensates, suggesting that its chaperone activity is essential for purinosomes to retain their liquid-like properties. This refined view of the purinosome offers new insight into how metabolic enzymes spatially organize into dynamic condensates within human cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101845
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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