Structure of FUS Protein Fibrils and Its Relevance to Self-Assembly and Phase Separation of Low-Complexity Domains

Dylan T. Murray, Masato Kato, Yi Lin, Kent R. Thurber, Ivan Hung, Steven L. McKnight, Robert Tycko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

162 Scopus citations


Polymerization and phase separation of proteins containing low-complexity (LC) domains are important factors in gene expression, mRNA processing and trafficking, and localization of translation. We have used solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance methods to characterize the molecular structure of self-assembling fibrils formed by the LC domain of the fused in sarcoma (FUS) RNA-binding protein. From the 214-residue LC domain of FUS (FUS-LC), a segment of only 57 residues forms the fibril core, while other segments remain dynamically disordered. Unlike pathogenic amyloid fibrils, FUS-LC fibrils lack hydrophobic interactions within the core and are not polymorphic at the molecular structural level. Phosphorylation of core-forming residues by DNA-dependent protein kinase blocks binding of soluble FUS-LC to FUS-LC hydrogels and dissolves phase-separated, liquid-like FUS-LC droplets. These studies offer a structural basis for understanding LC domain self-assembly, phase separation, and regulation by post-translational modification. Solid-state NMR of FUS fibrils provides structural insight into phase separation of low-complexity domains and its regulation by post-translational modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Amyloid structure
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Electron microscopy
  • FUS
  • Labile cross-β polymer
  • Liquid droplet
  • Liquid-liquid phase separation
  • Low-complexity sequence
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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