Multicellularity was a watershed development in evolution. However, it also meant that individual cells could escape regulatory mechanisms that restrict proliferation at a severe cost to the organism: cancer. From the standpoint of cellular organization, evolutionary complexity scales to organize different molecules within the intracellular milieu. The recent realiza-tion that many biomolecules can “phase-separate” into membraneless organelles, reorganizing cellular biochemistry in space and time, has led to an explosion of research activity in this area. In this review, we explore mechanistic connections between phase separation and cancer-associated processes and emerging examples of how these become deranged in malignancy. Significance: One of the fundamental functions of phase separation is to rapidly and dynamically respond to environmental perturbations. Importantly, these changes often lead to alterations in cancer-relevant pathways and processes. This review covers recent advances in the field, including emerging principles and mechanisms of phase separation in cancer.
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