Gene regulation by liquid-liquid phase separation

Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) is a phenomenon where proteins or nucleic acids condense to form droplets within a solution, similar to the demixing of oil and vinegar in a vinaigrette. This allows cells to form membraneless organelles (e.g. the nucleolus, stress granules) and is critical for proper cell function, as it helps to organise functions such as gene transcription in time and space. LLPS is facilitated by interactions between so-called disordered proteins, which have no fixed structure. My lab uses computational techniques to study how LLPS provides robust gene regulation in development, as well as how posttranslational modifications and mutations in disordered proteins can dysregulate LLPS in ageing and disease.

Research website

Positions held

  • Since 2020: ReALity Junior Group Leader and IMB Associate Group Leader, Faculty of Biology and KOMET1, Institute of Physics, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), Mainz
  • 2015 - 2020: Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Theoretical Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt am Main


  • 2015: DPhil in Biochemistry, University of Oxford, UK
  • 2010: MBiochem, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, University of Oxford, UK

Selected publications by Lukas Stelzl

Benayad Z, von Bülow S, Stelzl LS and Hummer G (2021) Simulation of FUS protein condensates with an adapted coarse-grained modelJ Chem Theory Comput, 17:525–537 Link

Stelzl LS, Mavridou DA, Saridakis E, Gonzalez D, Baldwin AJ, Ferguson SJ, Sansom MS and Redfield C (2020) Local frustration determines loop opening during the catalytic cycle of an oxidoreductaseeLife, 9:e54661 Link

Stelzl LS, Erlenbach N, Heinz M, Prisner TF and Hummer G (2017) Resolving the conformational dynamics of DNA with Ångstrom resolution by pulsed electron–electron double resonance and molecular dynamicsJ Am Chem Soc, 139:11674–11677 Link

Stelzl LS and Hummer G (2017) Kinetics from Replica Exchange Molecular Dynamics SimulationsJ Chem Theory Comput, 13:3927–3935 Link

Stelzl LS, Kells A, Rosta E and Hummer G (2017) Dynamic histogram analysis to determine free energies and rates from biased simulationsJ Chem Theory Comput, 13:6328–6342 Link