Phase Separation and the Centrosome: A Fait Accompli?
There is currently intense interest in the idea that many membraneless organelles might assemble through phase separation of their constituent molecules into biomolecular 'condensates' that have liquid-like properties. This idea is intuitively appealing, especially for complex organelles such as centrosomes, where a liquid-like structure would allow the many constituent molecules to diffuse and interact with one another efficiently. I discuss here recent studies that either support the concept of a liquid-like centrosome or suggest that centrosomes are assembled upon a more solid, stable scaffold. I suggest that it may be difficult to distinguish between these possibilities. I argue that the concept of biomolecular condensates is an important advance in cell biology, with potentially wide-ranging implications, but it seems premature to conclude that centrosomes, and perhaps other membraneless organelles, are necessarily best described as liquid-like phase-separated condensates.