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  1. Note: This rebuttal was posted by the corresponding author to Review Commons. Content has not been altered except for formatting.

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    Reply to the reviewers

    Reply to the reviewers

    1. General Statements

    It is the common view of all three reviewers that we have not utilized adequate in vitro/biochemical evidence to support the idea that SATB1 protein undergoes liquid-liquid phase separation. We do agree with the reviewers that our manuscript lacks biochemical evidence to support such notion. Though we find it quite interesting and we would like to suggest for the first time in the field of chromatin organization and function, based upon the action of SATB1, that this protein does exist in at least two polypeptide isoforms (764 and 795 amino acids long) which display different phase separation propensity and therefore confer different actions in regulating the (patho)physiological properties of a murine T cell.

    Every single research group that works on SATB1, considered so far only a single protein isoform, that is, the shorter isoform of 764 amino acids and no tools, such as isoform-specific antibodies have been developed to discriminate the two isoforms and thus being able to assign unique functions to each isoform. We do understand that such a report, suggesting the presence of two protein isoforms, with potentially quite diverse functions, would question (not necessarily by the authors of this manuscript, since no such comment is included in our manuscript) the conclusions drawn in the literature assigning all biochemical properties to a single, short isoform of SATB1. Moreover, all the genetically modified mice that have been analyzed so far (including our group), deleted both Satb1 isoforms. Our future research approaches should, from now on, consider unraveling the isoform-specific functions of SATB1 and their involvement in physiology and disease. This could also deem useful to explain the quite diverse, both positive and negative effects of SATB1 in transcription regulation. Another major objection of the reviewers was that we should provide cumulative supporting evidence for the existence of the long SATB1 isoform, or at least evaluate the specificity of our custom-made antibody.

    Taking under consideration the aforementioned constructive criticism of the three reviewers we would like to perform (most of the suggested experiments have already been performed) additional experiments to support our claims in the manuscript. These experiments are described below as a point-by-point reply to each point raised by the reviewers.

    In line with the aforementioned rationale, we propose the title of our manuscript to change into “Two SATB1 isoforms display different phase separation propensity”, if our manuscript is considered for publication.

    1. Description of the planned revisions

    **Reviewer #1**:

    1. Lack of in vitro reconstitution experiments with purified long and short SATB1

    **PLANNED EXPERIMENT #1**

    We do realize this shortcoming of our work. We have to note that purifying recombinant SATB1 protein is quite a challenging task, yet we 1. cloned both Satb1 cDNAs for the long and short isoforms, 2. we successfully expressed both proteins in great quantity and quality and we are willing to perform these experiments if our work is considered for publication.

    This proposed experiment has also been requested by Reviewers #2 and #3.

    **Reviewer #2**:

    1. Moreover, an important and direct experiment would be to clone the long isoform in a suitable vector and overexpress in the cell line (as done for the canonical isoform in Supp Fig 1a). This would unequivocally show the efficacy of the antibody and thus the following usage of the same for various assays.

    **PLANNED EXPERIMENT #2**

    This is a great suggestion. We have cloned the long and short Satb1 cDNAs in pEGFP-C1 vector. We will transfect these plasmids in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and we will perform Western blot analysis, utilizing the antibody raised against the extra 31 amino acids long peptide present only in the long SATB1 isoform, for the following samples: 1. NIH-3T3 whole cell protein extracts, 2. protein extracts from NIH 3T3 fibroblasts transiently transfected with the pEGFP-C1 plasmid, 3. protein extracts from NIH 3T3 fibroblasts transiently transfected with the pEGFP-long_Satb1_ plasmid and 4. protein extracts from NIH 3T3 fibroblasts transiently transfected with the pEGFP-short_Satb1_ plasmid.

    This experiment will consist another proof regarding the specificity of the antibody raised against the extra 31 amino acids long peptide present only in the long SATB1 isoform.

    **Minor comments:**

    1. On pg 6, related to Figure 1, the authors mention 'It should also be noted that when investigating the SATB1 protein levels, we have to bear in mind that the antibodies targeting the N-terminus of SATB1 protein cannot discriminate between the short and long isoforms'. The authors reason that their sizes are too close. It is indeed possible, and widely studied in biochemistry to assess various factors on protein migration (such as PTMs). The authors should validate this aspect (as it is important as per their premise) and perform separation based on charge as well and also use a commercial antibody to validate the same.

    (Experiments already performed)

    We have adapted the text so that it does not imply that the two isoforms cannot be separated by size. This part in lines 102-107 then reads: “It should also be noted that when investigating the SATB1 protein levels, we have to bear in mind that the antibodies targeting the N-terminus of SATB1 protein cannot discriminate between the short and long isoforms, thus we can only compare the amount of the long SATB1 isoform to the total SATB1 protein levels in vivo conditions. To overcome this limitation and to specifically validate the presence of the long SATB1 protein isoform in primary murine T cells, we designed a serial immunodepletion-based experiment (Fig. 1e, Supplementary Fig. 1a).”

    Moreover, in the revised version of the manuscript we now provide a number of additional proofs supporting the presence of the long isoform and also the specificity of the long isoform-specific antibody. As evident in the text cited above, in the revised Fig. 1e,f and revised Supplementary Fig. 1a,b; we present two immunodepletion experiments which should alone address the Reviewer’s concerns. Moreover, we added Supplementary Fig. 1c; demonstrating that the long isoform-specific antibody does not detect any protein in cells with conditionally depleted SATB1 (Satb1_fl/fl_Cd4-Cre+), supporting its specificity. The custom-made and publicly available antibodies targeting all SATB1 isoforms were also verified in Supplementary Fig. 1d. Moreover, the long isoform and all isoform antibodies display similar localization in the nucleus (Supplementary Fig. 1e; their co-localization based on super-resolution microscopy is also quantified in Supplementary Fig. 5a).

    In our accompanying revised manuscript Zelenka et al., 2022 (https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.09.451769), we will provide yet another piece of evidence, consisting of bacterially expressed short and long SATB1 protein isoforms detected by western blot using either the long isoform-specific or the non-selective all SATB1 isoform antibodies.

    **PLANNED EXPERIMENT #3**

    Although we think that in the revised version of the manuscript, we have provided enough proof about the existence of the long isoform in primary murine thymocytes we would like to try the following approach as suggested by this Reviewer.

    The pI of the two SATB1 isoform is quite similar. The pI of the short SATB1 isoform is 6.09 and for the long SATB1 isoform is 6.18. We will perform 2D PAGE coupled to Western blotting utilizing the antibodies detecting the long and all SATB1 isoforms. Given the fact that both isoforms are post-translationally modified to a various degree, it will be extremely difficult to discriminate between the long and short unmodified versus the long and short post-translationally modified proteins especially in the absence of a specific antibody only for the short isoform.

    **Reviewer #3**

    1. Hexanediol is another assay frequently used in phase-separation studies. However, hexanediol has many deleterious effects on the cell, even at a fraction of the concentration normally used in phase-separation studies. Authors should show controls of cell viability, control proteins that do not phase-separate, etc. See https://www.jbc.org/article/S0021-9258(21)00027-2/fulltext.

    Secondly, hexanediol treatment should cause phase-separated protein aggregates to disperse. It is difficult to determine from the images whether or not the aggregates actually disperse or there is just less protein. In any case, small aggregates remain even after treatment, and this appears different from most other hexanediol experiments reported in the literature where the signals become more dispersed and uniform. This is likely because the samples are fixed.

    One of the main features of using hexanediol in phase-separation is to show that upon washout, LLPS aggregates can reform. Because the cells are fixed, the critical aspect of this assay is not performed. A washout and LLPS recovery would control for cell viability issues described above and would provide the opportunity to show that total SATB1 protein levels did not change, but its distribution did, which is the essence of this assay in the context of LLPS. This review from the Tjian group is very informative and may be a good resource:

    http://genesdev.cshlp.org/content/33/23-24/1619

    In line with our reply to point #1 of this Reviewer (page 26 of this document), we should again emphasize that we utilized the hexanediol treatment in primary murine developing T cells as this is the only way to investigate the properties of SATB1 speckles under physiological conditions. This also explains why some small insoluble structure remains after the hexanediol treatment. Note that under physiological conditions, there is a contribution of several protein variants (such as differential PTMs) out of which some will tend to form more stable structures while others could undergo LLPS. It is not clear how the washout experiment could be applied in the primary cell conditions that include cell fixation as the heterogeneity and big variation among cells would make such data analysis highly unreliable.

    **PLANNED EXPERIMENT #1**

    As we answered to point #4 of Reviewer 1 (page 2), we propose the following experiment. Although the purification of recombinant SATB1 protein is quite a challenging task, yet we 1. cloned both Satb1 cDNAs for the long and short isoforms, 2. we successfully expressed both proteins in great quantity and quality and we are willing to perform in vitro reconstitution experiments if our work is considered for publication.

    1. The major difference between the long and short isoform of SATB1 is the 31aa segment within the IDR. However the authors find that neither the long or short isoform SATB1 forms LLPS aggregates, and the IDR alone forms aggregates in the cytoplasm (Fig5) but they do not respond to Cry2 light activation. When forced to localize to the nucleus, it does not form aggregates as well (Fig6). The short isoform also did not form any aggregates. These results seem to argue against any isoform specific phase-separation. This experiment seems critical for the story, yet it does not support their overall conclusions. The authors might consider using a different cell line or perhaps do an in vitro assay using purified protein.

    I am not certain what to make of the cytoplasmic aggregation, which appears to not form upon localization to the nucleus. Because of this, it is difficult to place weight on the significance of the S635A mutation and the role that a phosphorylation of SATB1 contributes to phase-separation, let alone function There are many additional points of concern, but the ones listed above are perhaps the most significant in terms of the overall conclusions of the paper.

    In Fig. 5c we show that the full length long SATB1 isoform often aggregates unlike the short isoform. These data are accompanied with the results for the IDR region, where the situation is even more obvious (Fig. 5f,g). However, in the latter, we have to bear in mind the absence of the multivalent N-terminal part of the protein which seems to be essential for the overall phase behavior of the protein as indicated in Fig. 4b,c.

    **PLANNED EXPERIMENT #1**

    To further support LLPS of SATB1, we are considering performing the following in vitro experiment, as we answered to point #4 of Reviewer 1 (page 2). Although the purification of recombinant SATB1 protein is quite a challenging task, yet we 1. cloned both Satb1 cDNAs for the long and short isoforms, 2. we successfully expressed both proteins in great quantity and quality and we are willing to perform in vitro reconstitution experiments if our work is considered for publication.

    1. Description of the revisions that have already been incorporated in the transferred manuscript

    **Reviewer #1 (Evidence, reproducibility and clarity)**:

    This paper looks at an important nuclear matrix protein SATB1, which is a well known global chromatin organizer and help chromatin loop attach to the nuclear matrix. The paper starts with identification of novel short and long form of SATB1. Both the isoform consist of a prion like low complexity domains, but the long isoform additionally contain an extra EPF domain next the Prion like low complexity domain. The paper reports that in murine cells the long isoform is 3-4 fold more abundant than the short isoform. By using STED microscopy they show SATB1 foci lie next to transcription sites in the nucleus. They conclude by looking at the spherical shape of the SATB1 foci and the susceptibility of SATB1 staining after 1,6 hexanediol treatment that SATB1 forms the small foci in the nucleus due to LLPS. The authors also use RAMAN spectroscopy to conclude a change in nuclear chemical space in absence of SATB1 but without much explanation about which chemical bond or nuclear sub structure change correspond to the change in principal component analysis from Raman spectroscopy. The authors use the light inducible aggregation cry2 tag with the PrD domain of SATB1 and compare it with the Cry2-FUS-LC domain to conclude that the SATB1 LC domain can undergo LLPS. The authors hint at involvement of RNA and also DNA in the LLPS of the SATB1 but without going into any detail. Reviewer: The paper reports that in murine cells the long isoform is 3-4 fold more abundant than the short isoform.

    Actually, in page 5 (lines 94-96) of the manuscript we write: “We confirmed that in murine thymocytes the steady state mRNA levels of the short Satb1 transcripts were about 3-5 fold more abundant compared to the steady state mRNA levels of the long Satb1 transcripts (Fig. 1d).” Although the steady state mRNA levels of the long isoform are less abundant compared to the shorter isoforms, the long isoform protein levels are almost comparable to the short isoform as deduced based on immunofluorescence experiments. Moreover, Using our two immunodepletion experiments we quantified the difference, estimating the long isoform being 1.5× to 2.62× less abundant than the short isoform (Fig. 1f and Supplementary Fig. 1b; compare lanes 2 & 3 at the lower panel). • Regarding the RAMAN spectroscopy experiments please see Minor Comment #1 of this Reviewer (page 10).

    The key conclusions of the paper are- A) SATB1 undergoes LLPS. But this conclusion is drawn after correlative experiments as detailed below-

    This conclusion is indeed made based on correlative experiments only for the primary murine T cells, which do not allow for any targeted experiments. However, the use of in vitro cell lines allowed us to validate these findings using the optogenetic approaches, utilizing additional experimentation.

    1. observation of spherical punctae by STED-which could also seem spherical due to their small size. The resolution limit achieved by the STED microscopy used in this paper is not determined or mentioned clearly.

    In the revised version of the manuscript, we have specified the resolution of our systems, for STED in Lines 745-746: ”This system enables super-resolution imaging with 35 nm lateral and 130 nm axial resolution.” and for SIM in Lines 759-761: “Images were acquired over the majority of the cell volume in z-dimension with 15 raw images per plane (five phases, three angles), providing ~120-135 nm lateral and ~340-350 nm axial resolution for 488/568 nm lasers, respectively.” The size of the observed speckles is thus above the resolution limit with sizes ranging between 40-80 nm.

    The resolution of our systems is routinely verified by the following methods: The resolution of our OMX (SIM-3D) system was tested using ARGO-SIM slide containing a pattern of 36 µm long lines with gradually increasing spacing ranging from (left to right) 0 to 390 nm, with a step of 30 nm (Fig. 1 below). Our SIM system was able to clearly resolve two lines separated by 120 nm.

    1. No live cell FRAP experiment with fluorescent SATB1 long or short isoform to show that these foci are liquid like

    We did perform FRAP experiments for the SATB1 N-terminus optogenetic construct as demonstrated in Fig. 4f. We did not perform FRAP in the primary murine T cells as this is not technically feasible without creating a new mouse line with fluorescently labeled protein. In the revised version of the manuscript, we additionally performed FRAP experiments for the full length short and long isoform of SATB1 labeled with EGFP and transfected into the NIH-3T3 cell line (Supplementary Figure 6f).

    1. LLPS is strongly coupled to the cellular concentration of the proteins. Authors should quantify the cellular concentration of the long and short isoform in the cells.

    We did consider protein concentration in our analyses of optogenetic constructs in Fig. 4b,d,e and Supplementary Fig. 6a,b,c. Quantifying the physiological cellular concentration of short and long SATB1 protein isoforms in primary T cells is impossible due to the inherent inability to discriminate between the isoforms by two antibodies, in the absence of Satb1 isoform-specific knockout mice.

    However, an approximation of the cellular concentration can be obtained from our immunodepletion experiments. On top of the original immunodepletion experiment that we now present in Supplementary Fig. 1a,b; in the revised version of the manuscript we have repeated the experiment in Fig. 1e,f. Comparison of the two bands for the long and short SATB1 isoforms in the lower panel of the western blot figures suggest that the long SATB1 isoform protein levels are 1.5× to 2.62× less abundant than the short isoform, according to the original and new immunodepletion experiment, respectively. This is now also included in the main text in Lines 110-116: “This experiment can also be used for approximation of the cellular protein levels of SATB1 isoforms in primary murine thymocytes. Comparison of the two bands for long (lane 2) and short SATB1 (lane 3) isoform in the lower panel of Fig. 1f and Supplementary Fig. 1b, suggests that the long SATB1 isoform protein levels may be about 1.5× to 2.62× less abundant than the short isoform, according to the two replicates of our immunodepletion experiment, respectively.”

    Major conclusion B)- SATB1 regulates transcription and splicing.

    This was also shown previously and in this paper they show the close proximity of the transcription site and SATB1 foci by microscopy. Hexanediol treatment which lead to loss of colocalization between FU foci and SATB1 is also taken as an evidence in regulation of transcription is not right as the transcription foci itself can be dissolved using 1,6 Hexanediol. Although the rate of transcription is not measured quantitatively.

    As mentioned in comment #3 (page 29) of this Reviewer, unfortunately there is no better tool to investigate these questions in primary cells than using microscopy approaches in conjunction with hexanediol treatment. However, we should also note that there is an accompanying manuscript from our group that is currently being under revision in another journal (preprint available: Zelenka et al., 2021; https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.09.451769). In the preprint manuscript, we showed that:

    1. the long SATB1 isoform binding sites have increased chromatin accessibility than what expected by chance (Fig. 3b),
    2. there is a drop in chromatin accessibility at SATB1 binding sites in Satb1 cKO mouse (Fig. 3c) and
    3. this drop in chromatin accessibility is especially evident at the transcription start sites of genes (Supplementary Fig. 1i)

    We believe that, together these data suggest a direct involvement of SATB1 in transcription regulation. Also note the vast transcriptional deregulation that occurs in Satb1 cKO T cells, affecting the expression of nearly 2000 genes (Fig. 2f, this revised manuscript). That is why we believe that the co-localization analysis, using super-resolution microscopy, presented in Fig. 2c and quantified in Fig. 3g, represents a nice additional support to our claims. Moreover, in the revised version of the manuscript we now present a positive correlation between SATB1 binding and deregulation of splicing (Supplementary Fig. 4d) which also supports its direct involvement in the regulation of transcriptional and co-transcriptional processes.

    In the revised version of the manuscript we have made this clear in Lines 182-194: “Satb1 cKO animals display severely impaired T cell development associated with largely deregulated transcriptional programs as previously documented19,37,38. In our accompanying manuscript19, we have demonstrated that long SATB1 isoform-specific binding sites (GSE17344619) were associated with increased chromatin accessibility compared to randomly shuffled binding sites (i.e. what expected by chance), with a visible drop in chromatin accessibility in Satb1 cKO. Moreover, the drop in chromatin accessibility was especially evident at the transcription start site of genes, suggesting that the long SATB1 isoform is directly involved in transcriptional regulation. Consistent with these findings and with SATB1’s nuclear localization at sites of active transcription, we identified a vast transcriptional deregulation in Satb1 cKO with 1,641 (922 down-regulated, 719 up-regulated) differentially expressed genes (Fig. 2f). Specific examples of transcriptionally deregulated genes underlying SATB1-dependent regulation are provided in our accompanying manuscript19. Additionally, there were 2,014 genes with altered splicing efficiency (Supplementary Fig. 4d-e; Supplementary File 3-4). We should also note that the extent of splicing deregulation was directly correlated with long SATB1 isoform binding (Supplementary Fig. 4d).”

    Major conclusion C)-Post transcriptional modification is important for SATB1 function.

    This point is just barely touched upon in the last figure of the paper

    We would not call the identification of the novel phosphorylation site as a main conclusion of our manuscript. Though, it is already known that posttranslational modifications of SATB1 are important for its function as they can function as a molecular switch rendering SATB1 into either an activator or a repressor (Kumar et al., 2006; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2006.03.010).

    In the revised manuscript, we support the effect of serine phosphorylation on the DNA binding capacity of SATB1 by another experiment. We have performed DNA affinity purification experiments utilizing primary thymocyte nuclear extracts treated with phosphatase (Supplementary Fig. 7b). We found that SATB1’s capacity to bind DNA (RHS6 hypersensitive site of the TH2 LCR) is lost upon treatment with phosphatase (Supplementary Fig. 7c). These results are in line with the data presented in Supplementary Fig. 7d, indicating the lost ability of SATB1 to bind DNA upon mutating the discovered phosphorylation site S635. Given the importance of posttranslational modifications of proteins on LLPS, we found it relevant to include it in our manuscript. Even more so, when we identified SATB1 aggregation, upon mutation of this phospho site (Fig. 6d).

    Overall I find that the major conclusion-point A and B, is based on very indirect experiments and needs much more convincing data and the role of SATB1 LLPS in cells should be demonstrated more rigorously. And conclusion C is barely described and needs a lot more cell biological and genetic evidence.

    One of the major assets of our work is that most of our data are based on the analysis of primary murine T cells and thus investigating the biological roles of the endogenous SATB1 protein, under physiological conditions. We apologize that we did not make it clear to this Reviewer, that our system has certain inherent limitations due to the utilization of primary cells.

    I do not recommend publishing the paper in current state. The story needs much more experiment to convincingly prove the major conclusions. Further, the MS needs more careful thinking and presentation to make it streamlined.

    We hope that in the revised version we have significantly improved the quality of our manuscript by implementing the suggested changes.

    Minor comments: One of the major flaw of the paper is the use too many techniques without proper explanation. E.g. use of STED and RAMAN microscopy need controls and explanation on what is being quantified. The use of Raman microscopy to quantify the nuclear environment of nucleus is not related to the chromatin organization or LLPS of SATB1 at all. And no information is provided at all which aspect of nuclear organization is being measured in Raman and what it means for the LLPS of SATB1.

    We do provide quite a thorough explanation of Raman spectroscopy and the underlying quantification in Lines 224-231: “we employed Raman spectroscopy, a non-invasive label-free approach, which is able to detect changes in chemical bonding. Raman spectroscopy was already used in many biological studies, such as to predict global transcriptomic profiles from living cells42, and also in research of protein LLPS and aggregation43–47. Thus we reasoned that it may also be used to study phase separation in primary T cells. We measured Raman spectra in primary thymocytes derived from both WT and Satb1 cKO animals and compared them with spectra from cells upon 1,6-hexanediol treatment. Principal component analysis of the resulting Raman spectra clustered the treated and non-treated Satb1 cKO cells together, while the WT cells clustered separately (Fig. 3h).” We also do provide controls as the method was performed on both treated and untreated WT and Satb1 cKO cells.

    Regarding the RAMAN spectroscopy experiments we now provide more information on the changes of chemical bonds altered between wild type and Satb1 cKO thymocytes. Following principal component analysis, we have extracted the two main principal components that were used for the clustering of our data. The differences are presented in Supplementary Fig. 5d.

    We do realize that RAMAN spectroscopy, although a quite novel approach utilized to study LLPS, has not been used to study LLPS in live cells. If deemed proper we are willing to avoid presenting these results in this manuscript.

    Similarly for Hexanediol treatment, duration of treatment is missing. Hexanediol can also dissolve the liquid like transcription foci. And hence a decrease in correlation between SATB1 foci and FU foci cannot be taken as a measure of SATB1 foci connection to transcription alone

    The duration of hexanediol treatment was 5 minutes as presented in Line 724 and in the revised version of the manuscript also in Lines 1206-1207. We should also note that additionally, we performed experiments with different hexanediol concentrations and timing varying from 1 minute to 10 minutes with results consistent with the data presented.

    It is not very clear how many times the STED or Raman microscopy is done on how many samples and biological replicates. Similarly for RNA sequencing number of samples and description of controls are missing. Also if the sequencing data is made publicly available is not clear.

    Data availability is clearly stated in Lines 506-509: “RNA-seq experiments and SATB1 binding sites are deposited in Gene Expression Omnibus database under accession number GSE173470 and GSE173446, respectively. The other datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available upon request.”

    The Reviewer’s token is “wjwtmeeeppovzqx”.

    RNA sequencing was performed in a biological triplicate for each genotype as stated in the GEO repository and now also in Line 566 of the revised manuscript.

    In Lines 180-181, we also state that it was performed on Satb1 cKO animals and WT mice as a control: “we performed stranded-total-RNA-seq experiments in wild type (WT) and Satb1fl/flCd4-Cre+ (Satb1 cKO) murine thymocytes”.

    In Lines 739-740, we now also state that all imaging approaches were performed on at least two biological replicates (different mice) and please also note the fact that all findings were based on data from both STED and 3D-SIM methods, allowing to minimize detection of artifacts. In the Raman spectroscopy figure, each point represents measurements from an individual cell and for each condition we used 2-5 biological replicates (Lines 831-832 & Line 1169).

    Similarly, in Lines 129-132 we provided a quite detailed description of differences between STED and 3D-SIM, even though these techniques are not that rare as Raman spectroscopy in biology research.

    Additional control is needed to report the resolution limit of Superresolution techniques-STED and 3D-SIM systems used by them.

    We have already provided this information in our reply to comment #1 of this Reviewer (pages 6-7): In the revised version of the manuscript, we have specified the resolution of our systems, for STED in Lines 745-746: ”This system enables super-resolution imaging with 35 nm lateral and 130 nm axial resolution.” and for SIM in Lines 759-761: “Images were acquired over the majority of the cell volume in z-dimension with 15 raw images per plane (five phases, three angles), providing ~120-135 nm lateral and ~340-350 nm axial resolution for 488/568 nm lasers, respectively.” The resolution of our systems is routinely verified by the following methods: The resolution of our OMX (SIM-3D) system was tested using ARGO-SIM slide containing a pattern of 36 µm long lines with gradually increasing spacing ranging from (left to right) 0 to 390 nm, with a step of 30 nm (Fig. 1 below). Our SIM system was able to clearly resolve two lines separated by 120 nm.

    Would be very helpful if the zonation was plotted for the FluoroUridine (FU) also to show that Zone1 (heterochromatin) is completely depleted of FU, and is present in other regions.

    In the revised version of the manuscript, we performed the suggested analysis and in Supplementary Fig. 3a we now show that indeed FU is significantly less localized to Zone 1 (heterochromatin) and has the most abundant localization in Zones 3 and 4, similar to the localization of SATB1 protein, as demonstrated in Fig. 2b.

    Scale bar needed figure 3d

    In the revised version of the manuscript, we included scale bars which are both 0.5 µm (line 1213).

    Perfectly rounded SATB1 foci- this does not mean LLPS. For LLPs measurement, protein condensate dynamics measurement by FRAP or fusion experiments is required. What is the size of condensates? and cellular concentration of SATB1? Will SATB1 undergo LLPS in vitro at similar concentrations? does SATB1 interact with DNA or RNA to undergo LLPS ?

    We toned down this sentence which now reads: “Here we demonstrated its connection to transcription and found that it forms spherical speckles (Fig. 1g), markedly resembling phase separated transcriptional condensates. (Lines 200-202)”.

    Moreover, as explained in earlier replies to comments of this Reviewer, we cannot perform FRAP on primary murine T cells without generating a new mouse line. We did, however, use FRAP and other in vitro approaches including visualization of droplet fusion in ex vivo experiments utilizing cell lines. Moreover, we are willing to demonstrate the LLPS properties of SATB1 on in vitro purified SATB1 protein as indicated in the suggested experiment of Point#4 (page 2).

    After careful reading of the MS I conclude that the main conclusions of the paper are very preliminary and need much more detailed experiments. So does not qualify to get published at all at this stage.

    **Reviewer #1 (Significance)**:

    The present manuscript tries to connect the phase separation of SATB1 to understanding the mechanism of SATB1 function in cells. One of the major hallmarks of phase separation is dynamic, liquid-like behaviour and in absence of these measurements, it is very difficult to say that the current manuscript has made any contribution to showing that SATB1 can phase separate.

    The presence of 2 isoforms of SATB1 is a novel finding and the paper could have focused more on this. E.g. elucidate expression of the isoform during thymocyte development and maturation.

    As a reviewer my expertise are cell biology experiments, microscopy, in vitro reconstitution assays, RNA binding proteins, RNA and RBP condensate formation. And I feel that the reconstitution experiments are an important tool for understanding phase behaviour of proteins and also to gauge if this behaviour can occur or not in cellular concentration and conditions.

    I do not have sufficient expertise in Raman microscopy and hence the information provided in the MS on this part was not enough to understand the experiment and conclusions drawn from it.

    **Reviewer #2 (Evidence, reproducibility and clarity)**:

    The authors have reported the existence of a 'long' SATB1 isoform which also undergoes LLPS. The authors tried to draw multiple comparisons and pointed out distinction between phase properties of SATB1 isoforms. The authors also touch upon two functional roles of SATB1. Although a wide array of assays are used, the data presented and hence the manuscript makes multiple transitions into disparate hypotheses without diving deep into a single hypothesis. As a result, the connections drawn are unclear, and do not converge at best. The authors have used number of techniques, however, the results do not support their conclusions and they appear hastily drawn. It is not clear why the authors jump from one context to the other, discussing LLPS first, then transcription, splicing, post-translational modification and finally cancer. The link between all of these isn't clear and not fully supported by data. It appears that the authors wish to focus on Satb1's physiological role in development, hence the data on breast cancer is confusing. Thus, this work suffers from multiple pitfalls. Specific comments are given below:

    Major comments

    1. Importantly, in Fig 1d, there is no statistics shown. There is no mention of number of replicates as well in the legends. Proper statistical evaluation is critical for interpreting this result.

    Please note that Fig. 1d only serves as a control to the sequencing experiment in Fig. 1b. In Line 566, we now state that for the RNA-seq: “A biological triplicate was used for each genotype.” To validate these data, we further designed a RT-qPCR experiment which was performed on three technical replicates from a male and female mouse. We now state this in Line 636. For the low number of samples, statistical tests are not accurate but we still added t test into the figure Fig. 1d and specified it also in the figure legend in Line 1169-1170.

    1. Figure 1f presents one of the weakest evidences in the manuscript. There are a number of corrections needed. Firstly, being their major and only validation figure for their custom antibody, the immunoblot is not clean, bands are fuzzy. Importantly, as the authors claim that the antibody is highly specific to 'long' SATB1, after the IP there should be only a single band (like input) of Satb1 long. But that does not seem to be the case, rather an array of bands are visible below (lane 2 top panel). This could easily mean that the shorter isoforms or non-specific protein bands are also pulled down with the 'long' form specific antibody. Therefore, raising a critical concern regarding the specificity of the antibody.

    • The long antibody was raised in mice inoculated with the extra peptide present in the long isoform only. Therefore, the capacity of this antibody precipitating the shorter isoforms, which do not express the sequence of the extra peptide (EP, Figure 1a) in not possible. • We have repeated the immunodepletion experiment and we now provide the results in Fig. 1f and Supplementary Fig. 1b. The western blot in Fig. 1f is now cleaner and supports quite convincingly the presence of a long SATB1 isoform. Given the lack of isoform-specific knockouts which we could utilize to immunoprecipitate or detect the different isoforms in a single cell (or cell population), the utilized approach of immunodepletion and subsequent western blotting is the approach we thought of implementing. • As shown in Fig. 1f and Supplementary Figure 1b, the long isoform SATB1 antibody has the capacity to recognize the long isoform in murine thymocyte protein extracts but not the short SATB1 isoform (please compare lane 3 in the two western blots utilizing either the antibody for the long isoform -top panel - or the antibody that detects both isoforms (lower panel). • We have performed Immunofluorescence experiments utilizing the antibody detecting the long SATB1 isoform in thymocytes isolated from either C57BL/6 or Satb1 cKO mice. The antibody is specific to the SATB1 protein since there is no signal in immunofluorescence experiments utilizing the knockout cells (Supplementary Figure 1c). • We have performed Immunofluorescence experiments utilizing thymocytes and the antibody detecting the long SATB1 or a commercially available antibody detecting all SATB1 isoforms. The pattern of SATB1 subnuclear localization is similar for both antibodies (Supplementary Figure 1e). • In our accompanying revised manuscript Zelenka et al., 2022 (https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.09.451769), we provide yet another piece of evidence, consisting of bacterially expressed short and long SATB1 protein isoforms detected by western blot using either the long isoform-specific or the non-selective all SATB1 isoforms antibodies. • Regarding the additional bands detected in the immunoprecipitation experiment presented in the original Supplementary Figure 1b (lane 2), it is not surprising that additional bands appear in a sample of protein extracts that is used for several hours for the immunoprecipitation experiments, while the “input” sample simply denotes protein extract that is frozen at -80oC right after the preparation of protein extracts until use. It is well-established that SATB1 is the target of proteases which might as well be active during the immunoprecipitation steps (2 consecutive immunoprecipitation steps take place). Therefore, the immunoprecipitated material cannot necessarily be a copy of the input material displaying a single protein band even if protease inhibitors are included in the buffers.

    Taken together the experiments described here we showed that the antibody raised against the extra 31 aa long peptide, present only in the long SATB1 isoform, is specific for this isoform.

    1. Related to Fig. 2 a, the authors state on Pg 5, '....the euchromatin and interchromatin regions (zones 3 & 4, Fig. 2a, b).' Although the DAPI correlation seems clear, there is no mention on how they reached the above said correlation. They should at least show a parallel speckle staining for HP1 or signature modification such as H3K4me9 STEDs for making supporting such a claim. DAPI alone is not sufficient. The authors should rectify the text thoroughly for many such interpretations without validation/reference or provide relevant data.

    This is a great suggestion we have again taken under consideration and we added the following experiments and the appropriate changes in the revised version of our manuscript. • We modified the text and added a reference to Miron et al., 2020 (https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aba8811) supporting our claims regarding SATB1 localization in relation to DAPI staining. • We have also added new microscopy images for HP1, H3K4me3 and fibrillarin staining and quantified the localization of FU-stained sites of active transcription in nuclear zones, to further support our claims. • This whole modified part in Lines 139-167 then reads: “ “The quantification of SATB1 speckles in four nuclear zones, derived based on the relative intensity of DAPI staining, highlighted the localization of SATB1 mainly to the regions with medium to low DAPI staining (zones 3 & 4, Fig. 2a, b). A similar distribution of the SATB1 signal could also be seen from the fluorocytogram of the pixel-based colocalization analysis between the SATB1 and DAPI signals (Supplementary Fig. 2a). SATB1’s preference to localize outside heterochromatin regions was supported by its negative correlation with HP1β staining (Supplementary Fig. 2b). Localization of SATB1 speckles detected by antibodies targeting all SATB1 isoforms and/or only the long SATB1 isoform, revealed a significant difference in the heterochromatin areas (zone 1, Fig. 2b), where the long isoform was less frequently present (see also Fig. 2a and Fig. 3c). Although, this could indicate a potential difference in localization between the two isoforms, due to the inherent difficulty to distinguish the two based on antibody staining, we refrain to draw any conclusions. The prevailing localization of SATB1 corresponded with the localization of RNA-associated and nuclear scaffold factors, architectural proteins such as CTCF and cohesin, and generally features associated with euchromatin and active transcription32. This was also supported by colocalization of SATB1 with H3K4me3 histone mark (Supplementary Fig. 2c), which is known to be associated with transcriptionally active/poised chromatin. Given the localization of SATB1 to the nuclear zones with estimated transcriptional activity32 (Fig. 2b, zone 3), we investigated the potential association between SATB1 and transcription. We unraveled the localization of SATB1 isoforms and the sites of active transcription labeled with 5-fluorouridine. Sites of active transcription displayed a significant enrichment in the nuclear zones 3 & 4 (Supplementary Fig. 3a), similar to SATB1. As detected by fibrillarin staining, SATB1 also colocalized with nucleoli which are associated with active transcription and RNA presence (Supplementary Fig. 3b). Moreover, we found that the SATB1 signal was found in close proximity to nascent transcripts as detected by the STED microscopy (Fig. 2c). Similarly, the 3D-SIM approach indicated that even SATB1 speckles that appeared not to be in proximity with FU-labeled sites in one z-stack, were found in proximity in another z-stack (Supplementary Fig. 3c). Additionally, a pixel-based colocalization of SATB1 and sites of active transcription is quantified later in the text in Fig. 3g, supporting their colocalization.”

    1. The authors mention, '...of the different SATB1 isoforms, uncovered by the use of the two different antibodies, relied in the heterochromatin areas (zone 1), where the long isoform was less frequently...' There is no supporting figure number mentioned. The authors need to show a zone-by-zone comparison images for 'all iso' vs 'long' iso of SATB1. Just to reiterate, there is a need for a heterochromatin mark to unambiguously call out the distinction.

    We should remind that there is an inherent difficulty to accurately compare localization of short and long SATB1 isoforms in primary cells, especially due to the lack of Satb1 isoform-specific knockout mice. There is no way to detect only the short isoform in these primary cells as there are only antibodies targeting the long or all SATB1 isoforms. Therefore, we cannot set up additional experiments probing these questions.

    In line with this, in the revised version of the manuscript, we toned down our statements regarding the differential localization of the two isoforms in primary cells. We only refer to it as an indication and we support it by adding references to the relevant figures. This part now reads: “Localization of SATB1 speckles detected by antibodies targeting all SATB1 isoforms and/or only the long SATB1 isoform, revealed a significant difference in the heterochromatin areas (zone 1, Fig. 2b), where the long isoform was less frequently present (see also Fig. 2a and Fig. 3c). Although, this could indicate a potential difference in localization between the two isoforms, due to the inherent difficulty to distinguish the two based on antibody staining, we refrain to draw any conclusions. (Lines 145-150)”

    1. On the same lines, '....Given the localization of SATB1 to the nuclear zones with estimated transcriptional activity (Fig. 2b, zone 3)....' How was the region labelled as transcriptionally active? For the statistical analysis of speckle count for the two antibodies' staining, the claim posited is a bit bigger. This could simply be true for that cell. The authors thus need to statistically analyse the speckle counts for multiple cells. This needs to be done for all imaging statistics done in multiple figures throughout the manuscript.

    As mentioned in our reply to the two previous comments of this Reviewer, transcriptional activity in relation to the nuclear zonation is well established in the literature. To make this clear, we have now added the reference to Miron et al., 2020 (https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aba8811) supporting our claims and additionally we have also included HP1, H3K4me3 and fibrillarin staining and quantification of FU signal in the nuclear zones. Moreover, it is not clear to which particular cell the comment refers to. The presented dots in Fig. 2b represent individual cells and the relative proportions of speckles in each nuclear zone are plotted on the y axis. In the revised version of the manuscript, we added into the figure the number of cells scored and we adapted the figure legend so that it is absolutely clear that we have analyzed multiple cells:

    “Nuclei of primary murine thymocytes were categorized into four zones based on the intensity of DAPI staining and SATB1 speckles in each zone were counted. Images used represented a middle z-stack from the 3D-SIM experiments. The graph depicts the differences between the long and all SATB1 isoforms’ zonal localization in nuclei of primary murine thymocytes. (Lines 1189-1193)”

    1. For figure 2c. the authors have used 5 Fluorouridine for nascent RNA speckles. 5FU is known to have a spread signal type (with strong association to nucleolus as well). This is not the case for the image presented 2c. The authors should resolve this by showing different sets of images.

    Developing and naive T cells are very unique in terms of their metabolic features and thus they should not be directly compared with other cell types. Therefore, we would not expect to see such a spread FU pattern as previously shown for other cell types. Having said that, we could not find any reference publication that utilized super-resolution microscopy to detect localization of FU-stained sites of active transcription in developing primary T cells. However, we performed additional immunofluorescence experiments to demonstrate the colocalization or its lack between SATB1 and HP1 (Supplementary Fig. 2b), H3K4me3 (Supplementary Fig. 2c) and fibrillarin (Supplementary Fig. 3b). Moreover, we provide additional regions of SATB1 and FU staining in Supplementary Fig. 3c. The modified text reads:

    “We unraveled the localization of SATB1 isoforms and the sites of active transcription labeled with 5-fluorouridine. Sites of active transcription displayed a significant enrichment in the nuclear zones 3 & 4 (Supplementary Fig. 3a), similar to SATB1. As detected by fibrillarin staining, SATB1 also colocalized with nucleoli which are associated with active transcription and RNA presence (Supplementary Fig. 3b). Moreover, we found that the SATB1 signal was found in close proximity to nascent transcripts as detected by the STED microscopy (Fig. 2c). Similarly, the 3D-SIM approach indicated that even SATB1 speckles that appeared not to be in proximity with FU-labeled sites in one z-stack, were found in proximity in another z-stack (Supplementary Fig. 3c). Additionally, a pixel-based colocalization of SATB1 and sites of active transcription is quantified later in the text in Fig. 3g, supporting their colocalization. (Lines 157-167)”

    1. Fig 2 d., the authors have suddenly jumped solely to 'all iso' Satb1 here for IP MS. Is there a reason for that? The authors either need to do this with 'long iso' antibody or remove the analysis from the manuscript as it does not add to their primary aim of the manuscript. Also, the authors have only selectively talked about two clusters? What about chromatin related proteins? It is quite intuitive to have highest enrichment of these given previous literature and even IP MS data by other groups. Thus, it is necessary to revise this thoroughly or remove it.

    We appreciate the acknowledgment by the Reviewer that our IP-MS data identified anticipated factors. In the revised version of the manuscript we modified the underlying text to accommodate references to these former findings revealing interactions between SATB1 and chromatin modifying complexes: “Apart from subunits of chromatin modifying complexes that were also detected in previous reports25,33–36, unbiased k-means clustering of the significantly enriched SATB1 interactors revealed two major clusters consisting mostly of proteins involved in transcription (blue cluster 1; Fig. 2d and Supplementary Fig. 4c) and splicing (yellow cluster 2; Fig. 2d and Supplementary Fig. 4c). (Lines 170-174)”

    Please note that many subunits of chromatin modifying and chromatin-related complexes are in fact characterized as transcription-related factors, therefore our statements are not in disagreement with the former findings. Note also that we provide Supplementary File 1 & 2 with comprehensive description of our IP-MS data for the readers’ convenience. Please also note that we are the first group to report on the existence of the long isoform. Therefore, we find it absolutely reasonable to perform IP-MS experiment for all SATB1 isoforms which can then be used for a comparison with other publicly available datasets. We believe that there is no contradiction in this experimental setup in relation to the rest of the manuscript. We discuss the two major clusters simply because they are the two major clusters identified as indicated in Fig. 2d. Additionally, in Supplementary Fig. 4c, we provide a comprehensive description of all significantly enriched interactors including their cluster annotation and thus anyone can investigate the data if needed.

    1. In relation to Fig. 2f, the authors have not mentioned any of the previously published work on Satb1 CD4 specific KO, not even the RNA seq studies the other groups have reported under the same condition. Only an unpublished reference of their own (preprint) is cited. It is imperative to show how much their data corroborates with other published studies. Additionally, what is the binding site status of dysregulated genes?

    In the revised version of the manuscript, we have included the references to other studies using the same Satb1 conditional knockout. Moreover, we have clarified the relationship between SATB1 binding and gene transcription. The modified part in Lines 182-194 now reads: “Satb1 cKO animals display severely impaired T cell development associated with largely deregulated transcriptional programs as previously documented19,37,38. In our accompanying manuscript19, we have demonstrated that long SATB1 isoform specific binding sites (GSE17344619) were associated with increased chromatin accessibility compared to randomly shuffled binding sites (i.e. what expected by chance), with a visible drop in chromatin accessibility in Satb1 cKO. Moreover, the drop in chromatin accessibility was especially evident at the transcription start site of genes, suggesting that the long SATB1 isoform is directly involved in transcriptional regulation. Consistent with these findings and with SATB1’s nuclear localization at sites of active transcription, we identified a vast transcriptional deregulation in Satb1 cKO with 1,641 (922 down-regulated, 719 up-regulated) differentially expressed genes (Fig. 2f). Specific examples of transcriptionally deregulated genes underlying SATB1-dependent regulation are provided in our accompanying manuscript19. Additionally, there were 2,014 genes with altered splicing efficiency (Supplementary Fig. 4d-e; Supplementary File 3-4). We should also note that the extent of splicing deregulation was directly correlated with long SATB1 isoform binding (Supplementary Fig. 4d).”

    1. In context of Figure 3a and b, the authors write .'...The long SATB1 isoform speckles evinced such sensitivity as demonstrated by a titration series with increasing concentrations of 1,6-hexanediol treatment followed...' Whereas it is apparent from the image at least that overall numbers of individual speckles are instead increased at both 2 and 5%. There is although a clear spreading of restricted speckles compared to the controls. The authors should revise their figures to substantiate the associated text. Furthermore, there needs to be 'all iso' SATB1 3D SIM imaging and not just quantitation for comparison. This is also true for panel c in order to demonstrate the effect.

    In the revised Fig. 3a we provide new images which better reflect the underlying data analysis. Moreover, in Fig. 3c and Fig. 3d we provide an additional comparison between SATB1 all isoforms and long isoform staining and their changes upon hexanediol treatment, detected by both the 3D-SIM and STED approaches. It is true that upon treatment, there tend to be more speckles, however these are much smaller as they are gradually being dissolved. Depending on the treatment duration, the cells are swollen which is reflected in increased spreading of speckles. Nevertheless, the nuclear size was considered in all the quantification analyses. We believe that the new images provide better evidence of SATB1’s sensitivity to hexanediol treatment.

    1. Fig. 3 d also does not clearly demonstrate what the authors have claimed '...hexanediol treatment highly decreased colocalization between...' The figure shows at best decreased signal intensity for both SATB1 and FU. We suggest that the authors should give a statistical analysis as well for the colocalization points between the two using multiple source images. Lastly, the two images shown (control and treated), there seems to be a clearly visible magnification difference. The authors should clarify this.

    • In the revised version of the manuscript in Figure 3d, we have provided scale bars, which are both 0.5 µm (line 1213). The difference observed by this Reviewer is actually the main reason why we provided this image. Figure 3d demonstrates that upon hexanediol treatment, the speckles are mostly missing or significantly reduced in size, for both FU and SATB1 staining. • Moreover, the suggested statistical analysis is also provided – in Figure 3e. In Figure 3e, we performed pixel-based colocalization analysis which is a method that allows both quantification and statistical comparison of colocalization between two factors and between different conditions. Please note especially the decreased colocalization between long SATB1 isoform and FU-stained sites of active transcription in the left graph, which is in agreement with our claims in the manuscript. • Moreover, our data are compared to a negative control, i.e. 90 degrees rotated samples, which is a common method in colocalization experiments as described for example in Dunn et al., 2011 (https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00462.2010). • Additionally, we provide Costes’ P values which are based on randomly scrambling the blocks of pixels (instead of individual pixels, because each pixel’s intensity is correlated with its neighboring pixels) in one image, and then measuring the correlation of this image with the other (unscrambled) image. Please see Costes et al., 2004 (https://doi.org/10.1529%2Fbiophysj.103.038422) for more details.

    1. Figure 3f. The authors show the PC plot for Raman spectroscopy for phase behaviour due to Satb1. The experiment and its related text seems misinterpreted; the authors write...' ese bonds were probably enriched for weak interactions responsible for LLPS that are susceptible to hexanediol treatment. This shifted the cluster of WT treated cells towards the Satb1 cKO cells. However, the remaining covalent bonds differentiated the WT samples from Satb1 cKO cells......' whereas the clusters are clearly far away in 3D for both WT and KO while being closer to their respective treatments. Which is also intuitive given the sensitivity of Raman spectroscopy. Thus, it is more likely to be treatment effect and KO effect as separate. Treatment of WT leads to KO like spectra is far-fetched. Thus, the authors need to show separate PCs and modify their text thoroughly.

    We do not present any 3D graph hence it is not clear what the Reviewer refers to. Please also note that as stated in Lines 817-818, we used a customized Raman Spectrometer. Therefore, this approach allowed us to measure Raman spectra at cellular and even sub-cellular levels. For example, solely by utilizing Raman spectroscopy, we can now distinguish euchromatin and heterochromatin, methylated and unmethylated DNA and RNA, etc. This, together with other reports, such as Kobayashi-Kirschvink et al., 2018 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cels.2018.05.015) and Kobayashi-Kirschvink et al., 2022 (https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.11.30.470655), indicate a potential use of Raman in biological research. In our manuscript, we used this method as a supplementary approach, however we do find it noteworthy. We should also emphasize that in the revised Raman spectroscopy Fig. 3h, each point represents measurements from an individual cell and for each condition we used 2-5 biological replicates (Lines 831-832 & Lines 1225-1226). We specifically refer to the principal component 1 (PC1) that differentiates the samples. Therefore, there are certain spectra (representing certain chemical bonding) that allowed us to differentiate between WT and Satb1 cKO. The same type of bonding was then affected when WT samples were treated with hexanediol and we also had controls to rule out the impact of hexanediol on the resulting spectra.

    1. In Fig 4. b, The authors have shown the propensity of SATB1 N terminus to phase separate using different optodroplet constructs. Although the imaging is clear, why are the regions selected not uniform when comparing various constructs?

    We have selected images that would best represent each category. Please note that this was live cell imaging of photo-responsive constructs, thus there are many limitations regarding the area selection. Very often, even the brief time of bright light exposure to localize cells may trigger protein clustering. Upon disassembly, every new light exposure of the same cell then triggers much faster assembly which skews the overall results. It is therefore desired to work fast, while neglecting selection of equally sized cells. Moreover, it is not clear how would the proposed change improve the quality of our manuscript.

    1. Figure 5a, the disassembly should be shown for 'long' SATB1 as well. On pg 13, the authors write '....cytoplasmic protein aggregation has been previously described for proteins containing poly-Q domains and PrLDs..' no reference given.

    • In the revised version of the manuscript, we present the assembly and disassembly for both short and long full length SATB1 optogenetic constructs. To increase clarity, we present the behavior of the short and long isoforms as two separate images in Figure 5a and Figure 5b, respectively. • Moreover, we provided references to the statement regarding aggregation of PrLD and poly-Q-containing proteins in Lines 305-309, which now reads: ”Since protein aggregation has been previously described for proteins containing poly-Q domains and PrLDs8,11,38,39, we next generated truncated SATB1 constructs encoding two of its IDR regions, the PrLD and poly-Q domain and in the case of the long SATB1 isoform also the extra peptide neighboring the poly-Q domain (Fig. 1a and 4a).”

    1. Fig. 5d, Is there an amino-acid specific reasoning to support the authors claim of the phase behaviour due to extra peptide? They need to show a proper control with equal extra (unrelated) peptide to show the specificity. Are the shorter isoform aggregates responsive to light?

    • We have referred to the amino acid composition bias in Fig. 5c. In the revised version of the manuscript, we made this clear by showing the composition bias in the new revised Fig. 5e. The related part of the main text then reads: “Computational analysis, using the algorithm catGRANULE37, of the protein sequence for both murine SATB1 isoforms indicated a higher propensity of the long SATB1 isoform to undergo LLPS with a propensity score of 0.390, compared to 0.379 for the short isoform (Fig. 5d). This difference was dependent on the extra peptide of the long isoform. Out of the 31 amino acids comprising the murine extra peptide, there are six prolines, five serines and three glycines – all of which contribute to the low complexity of the peptide region3 (Fig. 5e).” (Lines 298-304) • Moreover, we should note that the low complexity extra peptide of the long SATB1 isoform directly extends the PrLD and IDR regions as indicated in Fig. 4a and which we now directly state in Lines 304-305: “Moreover, the extra peptide of the long SATB1 isoform directly extends the PrLD and IDR regions as indicated in the Fig. 4a.” • We show in Fig. 4, that the N terminus of SATB1 undergoes LLPS. Since this part of SATB1 is shared by both isoforms, it is reasonable to assume that both isoforms would undergo LLPS. This is also in line with the observed photo-responsiveness of both short and long full length SATB1 isoforms in CRY2 optogenetic constructs in revised Fig. 5a,b, and similar FRAP results for both short and long full length SATB1 isoform constructs transiently transfected in NIH-3T3 cells in the revised Supplementary Fig. 6f. However, the main reason why we think that the difference in LLPS propensity between the isoforms is important is because the long isoform is more prone to aggregate compared to the short isoform, as documented in Fig 5c,f,g and Supplementary Fig. 5f.

    1. Fig 6c., It is important that authors show the data for NLS+short iso data as well to prove their hypothesis.

    As shown in original Figure 5d, the long SATB1 isoform undergoes cytoplasmic aggregation, unlike the short SATB1 isoform (as shown in the same Figure). Therefore, an image of the NLS + short isoform would not be related to our hypothesis. Actually, we wanted to reverse the long SATB1 isoform’s relocation, from the aggregated form in the cytoplasm into the nucleus. Nevertheless, to show the complete picture, in the revised version of the manuscript in Figure 6c, we now provide data for both short and long SATB1 isoforms.

    1. Fig 6d., The authors claim that mutating a specific P site changes the phase behaviour of the 'short iso'. Does it also increase for the long isoform? The authors need to confirm this in order to verify the effect of a single P site outside of oligomerization domain. ...' phosphorylation status; when phosphorylated it remains diffused, whereas unphosphorylated SATB1 is localized to PML bodies....' This being an important premise, thus should be moved to the results text.

    In the revised version of the manuscript, we moved the part regarding PML in the results section, as suggested by the Reviewer. Moreover, we included additional experiments probing the impact of association between PML and two SATB1 full length isoforms on their dynamics. The modified section in Lines 357-368 now reads: “In relation to this, a functional association between SATB1 and PML bodies was already described in Jurkat cells64. We should note that PML bodies represent an example of phase separated nuclear bodies65 associated with SATB1. Targeting of SATB1 into PML bodies depends on its phosphorylation status; when phosphorylated it remains diffused, whereas unphosphorylated SATB1 is localized to PML bodies66. This is in line with the phase separation model as well as with our results from S635A mutated SATB1, which has a phosphorylation blockade promoting its phase transitions and inducing aggregation. To further test whether SATB1 dynamics are affected by its association with PML, we co-transfected short and long full length SATB1 isoforms with PML isoform IV. The dynamics of long SATB1 isoform was affected more dramatically by the association with PML than the short isoform (Supplementary Fig. 7e), which again supports a differential behavior of the two SATB1 isoforms.”

    Moreover, given the localization of the discussed phosphorylation site in the DNA binding region of SATB1 we did test its impact on DNA binding as documented in the revised Supplementary Fig. 7d. Additionally, as we have noted in our answer in Major Comment C of this reviewer, to further support the effect of serine phosphorylation on the DNA binding capacity of SATB1 we have performed DNA affinity purification experiments utilizing primary thymocyte nuclear extracts treated with phosphatase (Supplementary Fig. 7b) We found that SATB1’s capacity to bind DNA (RHS6 hypersensitive site of the TH2 LCR) is lost upon treatment with phosphatase (Supplementary Fig. 7c).

    1. Pg 16,. The authors have tried to explain multiple things (concepts of self-regulation, accessibility) which is quite tangential. There is no inference to Fig 6f., which is showing the opposite to what the authors had postulated. This portion should either be removed or explained with a rationale. The writing also needs to be revised thoroughly in this section. Similarly, the discussion should also be modified.

    The rationale for the original Fig. 6f (revised Fig. 6g) was described in great detail in Lines 330-343 of the original manuscript. It is not clear why the Reviewer assumes that it shows the opposite to our hypothesis. As we explained, the increased accessibility allows faster read-through by RNA polymerase, and thus the exon with higher accessibility is more likely to be skipped. The exact relationship is shown in the revised Fig. 6g where the increased accessibility is associated with the expression of the short isoform, whereas the long isoform expression needs lower chromatin accessibility which allows the splicing machinery to act on the specific exon to be included. We reason that these findings are important and relevant because:

    1. we suggest a potential regulatory mechanism for the SATB1 isoforms production. This is highly relevant to this manuscript given the fact that this is the first report on the existence of the long SATB1 isoform, and
    2. the differential production of the long/short SATB1 isoforms has a potential relevance to breast cancer prognosis. In the revised version of the manuscript we added Fig. 6f, which now indicates the differential chromatin accessibility in human breast cancer patients and accordingly the expression of the long SATB1 isoform are associated with worse patient prognosis as indicated in Fig. 6h and Supplementary Fig. 8a,b. In the revised version of the manuscript, we substantially modified the text in Lines 374-408, to make the relevance of all these conclusions clear. The modified text now reads: “Therefore, we reasoned that a more plausible hypothesis would be based on the regulation of alternative splicing. In our accompanying manuscript19, we have reported that the long SATB1 isoform DNA binding sites display increased chromatin accessibility than what expected by chance (Fig. 3b in 19), and chromatin accessibility at long SATB1 isoform binding sites is reduced in Satb1 cKO (Fig. 3c in 19), collectively indicating that long SATB1 isoform binding promotes increased chromatin accessibility. We identified a binding site specific to the long SATB1 isoform19 right at the extra exon of the long isoform (Fig. 6e). Moreover, the study of alternative splicing based on our RNA-seq analysis revealed a deregulation in the usage of the extra exon of the long Satb1 isoform (the only Satb1 exon affected) in Satb1 cKO cells (deltaPsi = 0.12, probability = 0.974; Supplementary File 4). These data suggest that SATB1 itself is able to control the levels of the short and long Satb1 isoforms. A possible mechanism controlling the alternative splicing of Satb1 gene is based on its kinetic coupling with transcription. Several studies indicated how histone acetylation and generally increased chromatin accessibility may lead to exon skipping, due to enhanced RNA polymerase II elongation48,49. Thus the increased chromatin accessibility promoted by long SATB1 isoform binding at the extra exon of the long isoform, would increase RNA polymerase II read-through leading to decreased time available to splice-in the extra exon and thus favoring the production of the short SATB1 isoform in a negative feedback loop manner. This potential regulatory mechanism of SATB1 isoform production is supported by the increased usage of the extra exon in the absence of SATB1 in Satb1 cKO (Supplementary File 4). To further address this, we utilized the TCGA breast cancer dataset (BRCA) as a cell type expressing SATB150. ATAC-seq experiments for a series of human patients with aggressive breast cancer51 revealed differences in chromatin accessibility at the extra exon of the SATB1 gene (Fig. 6f). In line with the “kinetic coupling” model of alternative splicing, the increased chromatin accessibility at the extra exon (allowing faster read-through by RNA polymerase) was positively correlated with the expression of the short SATB1 isoform and slightly negatively correlated with the expression of the long SATB1 isoform (Fig. 6f). Moreover, we investigated whether the differential expression of SATB1 isoforms was associated with poor disease prognosis. Worse pathological stages of breast cancer and expression of SATB1 isoforms displayed a positive correlation for the long isoform but not for the short isoform (Fig. 6g and Supplementary Fig. 6c). This was further supported by worse survival of patients with increased levels of long SATB1 isoform and low levels of estrogen receptor (Supplementary Fig. 6d). Overall, these observations not only supported the existence of the long SATB1 isoform in humans, but they also shed light at the potential link between the regulation of SATB1 isoforms production and their involvement in pathological conditions.”
    1. The authors should not draw conclusions based on any data which is not shown '....ed differences in chromatin accessibility at the extra exon of the SATB1 gene (data not shown), suggesting its potential involvement in alternative splicing regulation according to the "kinetic coupling" model...'. This has led to overspeculation and needs correction.

    In the revised version of the manuscript, we included the ATAC-seq data from human breast cancer patients in the revised Fig. 6f. The legend of this figure now reads: “Human TCGA breast cancer (BRCA) patient-specific ATAC-seq peaks51 span the extra exon (EE: extra exon; labeled in green) of the long SATB1 isoform. Note the differential chromatin accessibility in seven selected patients, emphasizing the heterogeneity of SATB1 chromatin accessibility in cancer. Chromatin accessibility at the promoter of the housekeeping gene DNMT1 is shown as a control. (Lines 1281-1285)” Accordingly, we have also modified the main text: “ATAC-seq experiments for a series of human patients with aggressive breast cancer68 revealed differences in chromatin accessibility at the extra exon of the SATB1 gene (Fig. 6f). In line with the “kinetic coupling” model of alternative splicing, the increased chromatin accessibility at the extra exon (allowing faster read-through by RNA polymerase) was positively correlated with the expression of the short SATB1 isoform and slightly negatively correlated with expression of the long SATB1 isoform (Fig. 6g).” (Lines 395-339)”

    Minor comments:

    1. On pg 4, the authors state 'Here, we utilized primary murine T cells, in which we have identified two full-length SATB1 protein isoforms.' Whereas only one 'long' isoform is identified and the other is the canonical version. The authors should correct the statement.

    In the revised version of the manuscript, we modified this statement as follows: ”In this work, we utilized primary developing murine T cells, in which we have identified a novel full-length long SATB1 isoform and compared it to the canonical “short” SATB1 isoform.” (Lines 64-66)”

    1. Fig. 1 a , Is there a specific reason to generate a custom-made antibody for 'all' SATB1, using similar regions that are already commercially available. This becomes redundant otherwise, because there is no apparent difference in detection compared to the commercial one (Suppl. Fig 1a). Antibody generation strategy (1a) should be moved to supplementary. Additionally, authors have obtained the custom antibodies from a commercial source, therefore, the text should reflect the same alongside relevant details.

    The custom-made SATB1 antibody targeting the amino-terminal region of the protein has been developed in order to be utilized for detecting the native form of the protein. Unlike commercially available antibodies raised against either short peptides or denatured forms of the protein we have utilized the native form of the amino-terminal part of the protein for raising this antibody. To be honest, this antibody has been raised in order to be utilized in ChIP-seq experiments since no commercially available antibody is of high quality for this approach. Moreover, the original Figure 1a was utilized in order to provide an overview of the SATB1 protein structure which is highly relevant to understand its biophysical properties and not for presenting the strategy for raising a custom-made antibody for SATB1.

    1. Fig 3e: what is the control used here? In their Pearson correlation analysis, there seem to be significant reduction in control sets as well upon treatment. This needs to be clarified.

    We used scans rotated by 90° which served as a negative control, as stated in Line 769: “SATB1 scans rotated by 90° served as a negative control for the colocalization with FU.” Note that this is a commonly used control in colocalization experiments as described for example in Dunn et al., 2011 (https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00462.2010).

    Additionally, we provide Costes’ P values which are based on randomly scrambling the blocks of pixels (instead of individual pixels, because each pixel’s intensity is correlated with its neighboring pixels) in one image, and then measuring the correlation of this image with the other (unscrambled) image. Please see Costes et al., 2004 (https://doi.org/10.1529%2Fbiophysj.103.038422) for more details. Moreover, it was actually anticipated to see a decrease in colocalization upon hexanediol treatment even in the negative control, as hexanediol significantly reduces both SATB1 and FU speckles as established in Fig. 3a-d.

    1. Pg 10, the authors claim that '..., thus we reasoned that it may also be used to study phase separation...' But there have been numerous reports starting from 2018, which have utilized this technique in corelation to phase behaviour (albeit individual proteins). The authors should include proper citations as they are extending an idea from the same field to their specific need.

    In the revised version of the manuscript, we included relevant citations to support the use of Raman spectroscopy in LLPS research: “Raman spectroscopy was already used in many biological studies, such as to predict global transcriptomic profiles from living cells42, and also in research of protein LLPS and aggregation43–47. Thus we reasoned that it may also be used to study phase separation in primary T cells.” (Lines 225-228)”

    1. For Fig 5b, there should be a comparative image for 'short' isoform.

    In the revised Figure 5c we have included a comparative image for the short SATB1 isoform.

    1. In the context of Figure 5c, the authors claim ...' Note also the higher LLPS propensity of the human long SATB1 isoform compared to the murine SATB1...' Why suddenly human and mouse comparisons are drawn? This figure should be moved to supplementary.

    The comparison between the human and mouse SATB1 isoforms has been implemented because it is relevant for our claims regarding the increased SATB1 aggregation in human cells in relation to the revised Fig. 6f,g,h and Supplementary Fig. 6c,d. This is also discussed in Lines 479-482, which read: “This is particularly important given the higher LLPS propensity of the human long SATB1 isoform compared to the murine SATB1 (Fig. 5d). Therefore, human cells could be more susceptible to the formation of aggregated SATB1 structures which could be associated with physiological defects.”

    **Reviewer #3 (Evidence, reproducibility and clarity):**

    Zelenka et al., focus on a T cell genome-organizing protein, SATB1, to show that SATB1 undergoes liquid liquid phase-separation (LLPS), and distinct isoforms confer different LLPS-related biophysical properties. They generate a long-isoform specific antibody and conduct several experiments to test for LLPS and compare LLPS properties between the long-isoform relative to the whole SATB1 protein population. Given that SATB1 plays important roles in T cell development and in cancer, interrogating SATB1 biophysical properties is an important question. However, there are multiple problems with the experimental setup and data that weaken their support of the conclusions. I will detail some of the major issues below:

    Regarding phase-separation There are several assays to determine whether a protein undergoes LLPS.

    1. One of the first the authors address is the spherocity or roundness. Indeed, formation of spherical droplets is one evidence of the liquid nature of a protein. However, the authors use fixed preparations (which can introduce artifacts), not free-floating protein, and determine roundness by showing a 2D image. Roundness should take into account the diffraction-limits of fluorescent imaging, as many structures can be imaged to appear round by the detector. There are quantifiable measurements that can be taken on 3D images to show roundness. This would best be shown using non-fixed protein.

    • We thank this Reviewer for several insightful comments. Although, we agree with most of them, we should highlight the main goal of our manuscript, i.e. to investigate the SATB1 protein with an emphasis on its physiological roles in primary developing murine T cells. We highlight this already in the introduction in Line 64 “In this work, we utilized primary developing murine T cells,...” and mainly also in the respective part of the result section: “To probe differences in phase separation in mouse primary cells, without any intervention to SATB1 structure and expression, we first utilized 1,6-hexanediol treatment, which was previously shown to dissolve the liquid-like droplets34.(Lines 203-205)”

    • We believe that this is a very important aspect of our study that should not be overlooked. The majority of proteins perhaps behave differently under physiological and in vitro conditions. However, due to the extensive post-translational modifications affecting the properties of SATB1, its completely different localization patterns between primary developing T cells and other cell types but especially cell lines and many other aspects, it was of utmost importance to focus our research on primary T cells. Unfortunately, this was accompanied with multiple difficulties, such as that we have to use fixed cells as this is the only way to visualize SATB1 in these cells. Alternatively, one could create a new mouse line expressing a fluorescently tagged SATB1 protein, but this is beyond the scope of our work.

    • However, we should also note that many LLPS-related studies do not pay any focus on primary physiological functions of proteins and they simply focus on the investigation of protein’s artificial behavior in in vitro conditions. Having said that, we too extended our experiments in primary cells to the ex vivo studies in cell lines to further support our claims. In these experiments, we utilized live cell imaging in Fig. 4-6, quantified the spherocity in Supplementary Fig. 6, showed the ability of speckles to coalesce in Fig. 4c and also used FRAP in Fig. 4f and also in the revised version of the manuscript in Supplementary Figure 6f. Moreover, we should note that most of these experiments were designed and performed during 2017 and 2018 conforming with the standards. We are well aware of the progress in the field and impact of fixation on LLPS, as described in Irgen-Gioro et al., 2022 (https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.05.06.490956), but after over seven months of review process in another journal we also believe that these aspects should be considered not to delay further progress of the SATB1 field.

    Regarding the isoform specificity of SATB1 biophysical properties

    1. The authors generate a long isoform-specific antibody. However, the western blot is not convincing that this is indeed specific to the long isoform as there is a rather large smear. Can this be improved with antibody preabsorption? Since this is a key reagent for the manuscript, improvement in antibody quality is essential.

    The custom-made antibody for the long isoform has been raised against the unique 31 amino acids long peptide present in the long SATB1 isoform. The polyclonal serum has undergone affinity chromatography utilizing the immobilized peptide (antigen) to purify the antibody. In the revised version of the manuscript we have included another immunodepletion experiment with cleaner bands (Fig. 1f). Moreover, please read our answer to Major comment #2 of Reviewer 1 that follows: • The long antibody was raised in mice inoculated with the extra peptide present in the long isoform only. Therefore, the capacity of this antibody precipitating the shorter isoforms, which do not express the sequence of the extra peptide (EP, Figure 1a) in not possible.

    • We have repeated the immunodepletion experiment and we now provide the results in Fig. 1f and Supplementary Fig. 1b. The western blot in Fig. 1f is now cleaner and supports quite convincingly the presence of a long SATB1 isoform. Given the lack of isoform-specific knockouts which we could utilize to immunoprecipitate or detect the different isoforms in a single cell (or cell population), the utilized approach of immunodepletion and subsequent western blotting is the approach we thought of implementing.

    • As shown in Fig. 1f and Supplementary Figure 1b, the long isoform SATB1 antibody has the capacity to recognize the long isoform in murine thymocyte protein extracts but not the short SATB1 isoform (please compare lane 3 in the two western blots utilizing either the antibody for the long isoform -top panel - or the antibody that detects both isoforms (lower panel).

    • We have performed Immunofluorescence experiments utilizing the antibody detecting the long SATB1 isoform in thymocytes isolated from either C57BL/6 or Satb1 cKO mice. The antibody is specific to the SATB1 protein since there is no signal in immunofluorescence experiments utilizing the knockout cells (Supplementary Figure 1c).

    • We have performed Immunofluorescence experiments utilizing thymocytes and the antibody detecting the long SATB1 or a commercially available antibody detecting all SATB1 isoforms. The pattern of SATB1 subnuclear localization is similar for both antibodies (Supplementary Figure 1e).

    • In our accompanying revised manuscript Zelenka et al., 2022 (https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.09.451769), we provide yet another piece of evidence, consisting of bacterially expressed short and long SATB1 protein isoforms detected by western blot using either the long isoform-specific or the non-selective all SATB1 isoforms antibodies.

    • Regarding the additional bands detected in the immunoprecipitation experiment presented in the original Supplementary Figure 1b (lane 2), it is not surprising that additional bands appear in a sample of protein extracts that is used for several hours for the immunoprecipitation experiments, while the “input” sample simply denotes protein extract that is frozen at -80oC right after the preparation of protein extracts until use. It is well-established that SATB1 is the target of proteases which might as well be active during the immunoprecipitation steps (2 consecutive immunoprecipitation steps take place). Therefore, the immunoprecipitated material cannot necessarily be a copy of the input material displaying a single protein band even if protease inhibitors are included in the buffers.

    Taken together the experiments described here we showed that the antibody raised against the extra 31 aa long peptide, present only in the long SATB1 isoform, is specific for this isoform.

    1. Fig 4 Optodroplet experiment appears to show that the N-terminus of SATB1 can undergo LLPS. The results of this assay show that SATB1 has a domain that can undergo phase-separation in isolation, but it does not show that the protein itself is a phase-separating protein. The FRAP assay methods are not provided by the authors, but this is important, as continued light activation means proteins are continuously forming aggregates, and the bleaching for FRAP should be balanced with the levels of Cry2 activation. A very good description of the methods is described in the original Optodroplet paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009286741631666X?via%3Dihub#sec4

    We should note that we did follow the FRAP protocol provided by the recommended study Shin et al., 2017 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.054). Indeed, these experiments are very tricky to perform and interpret, as every cell expresses slightly different amounts of protein which is directly associated with the different speed of optoDroplet formation, and thus its propensity to aggregate upon overactivation. On the other hand, there need to be continuous activation during the FRAP experiment as the lack of activation laser would result in fast disassembly of the optoDroplets, counteracting the FRAP results. Moreover, the optoDroplets actively move around the cell in all dimensions which makes the accurate measurement of signal intensity really challenging, even with an adjusted pinhole. Therefore, we do not think that FRAP is the best approach to examine the behavior of optoDroplets.

    Either way, we have now described the detailed FRAP protocol in Lines 889-898, which read: “For the FRAP experiments, cells were first globally activated by 488 nm Argon laser illumination (alongside with DPSS 561 nm laser illumination for mCherry detection) every 2 s for 180 s to reach a desirable supersaturation depth. Immediately after termination of the activation phase, light-induced clusters were bleached with a spot of ∼1.5 μm in diameter. The scanning speed was set to 1,000 Hz, bidirectionally (0.54 s / scan) and every time a selected point was photobleached for 300 ms. Fluorescence recovery was monitored in a series of 180 images while maintaining identical activation conditions used to induce clustering. Bleach point mean values were background subtracted and corrected for fluorescence loss using the intensity values from the entire cell. The data were then normalized to mean pre-bleach intensity and fitted with exponential recovery curve in Fiji or in frapplot package in R.”

    1. Description of analyses that authors prefer not to carry out

    **Reviewer #1**:

    Can they use the all and long isoform antibodies together, then subtract the signal from long isoform to conclude about the localization of the shorth isoform ?

    We thank the Reviewer for the suggestion, though given the differential efficiency of antibodies and other limitations of imaging experiments, we do not find the suggested experiment to have a potential to improve the quality of our manuscript. However, we should note that we have performed a pixel-based colocalization experiment between the signal detected by all isoform and long isoform SATB1 antibodies. Fluorocytogram of the pixel-based colocalization, based on 3D-SIM data is provided on the left, with quantified colocalization on the right of the revised Supplementary Fig. 5a.

    1. Lack of better staining with antibody against the long and short SATB1 isoforms after treatment with 1,6 Hexanediol. 1,6 Hexanediol treatment can change many other chromatin associated proteins to which SATB1 can be bound to indirectly. This experiment can

    We do understand the controversy and difficulties of experiments using 1,6-hexanediol treatment. However, we have to note that there is no better approach available for the investigation of LLPS in our primary murine T cells. We did use alternative approaches in ex vivo experiments, utilizing cell lines to validate our hypothesis without the involvement of 1,6-hexanediol.

    **Reviewer #2**:

    1. The authors mention, '...of the different SATB1 isoforms, uncovered by the use of the two different antibodies, relied in the heterochromatin areas (zone 1), where the long isoform was less frequently...' There is no supporting figure number mentioned. The authors need to show a zone-by-zone comparison images for 'all iso' vs 'long' iso of SATB1. Just to reiterate, there is a need for a heterochromatin mark to unambiguously call out the distinction.

    We should remind that there is an inherent difficulty to accurately compare localization of short and long SATB1 isoforms in primary cells, especially due to the lack of Satb1 isoform-specific knockout mice. There is no way to detect only the short isoform in these primary cells as there are only antibodies targeting the long or all SATB1 isoforms. Therefore, we cannot set up additional experiments probing these questions.

    In line with this, in the revised version of the manuscript, we toned down our statements regarding the differential localization of the two isoforms in primary cells. We only refer to it as an indication and we support it by adding references to the relevant figures. This part now reads: “Localization of SATB1 speckles detected by antibodies targeting all SATB1 isoforms and/or only the long SATB1 isoform, revealed a significant difference in the heterochromatin areas (zone 1, Fig. 2b), where the long isoform was less frequently present (see also Fig. 2a and Fig. 3c). Although, this could indicate a potential difference in localization between the two isoforms, due to the inherent difficulty to distinguish the two based on antibody staining, we refrain to draw any conclusions. (Lines 145-150)”

    1. Fig. 6a, The authors wished to see the effect of RNA on Satb1 nuclear localization. This is not related to the main theme of the paper, thus should be moved to supplementary (true for b as well). Importantly, the experiments should be performed with total cells to show the divergence of localization (like the paper the authors referred to) instead of matrix for clarity.

    • We did not wish to see the effect of RNA on SATB1 localization. In fact, there is a long history of SATB1 research that is inherently linked with the concept of nuclear matrix, a putative nuclear structure which is highly associated with nuclear RNAs. SATB1 was described many times as a nuclear matrix protein (https://doi.org/10.1016/0092-8674(92)90432-c; https://doi.org/10.1128/mcb.14.3.1852-1860.1994; https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.272.17.11463; https://doi.org/10.1128/mcb.17.9.5275; https://doi.org/10.1021/bi971444j; https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.141.2.335; https://doi.org/10.1101/gad.14.5.521; https://doi.org/10.1038/ng1146).

    • Moreover, our data discussed in comments 4-7 of this Reviewer, such as i. the localization of SATB1 to the nuclear zones associated with RNA and nuclear scaffold factors (Fig. 2b, Supplementary Fig. 1c), ii. colocalization of SATB1 with actively transcribed RNAs (Fig. 2c, Fig. 3g, Supplementary Fig. 2a, Supplementary Fig. 2c), iii. including its association with nucleoli (Supplementary Fig. 3b), and also iv. its computationally predicted interaction with Xist lncRNA (Agostini et al., 2013; https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gks968) as a notable factor of nuclear matrix, all suggest that the interaction between RNA and SATB1 is plausible and potentially relevant for its function and/or at least its subnuclear localization. It is relevant even more so, when considering numerous reports on the ability of RNA-binding, poly-Q and PrLD-containing proteins to undergo LLPS https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2015.08.018; https://doi.org/10.1042/bcj20160499; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.03.002; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.006; https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkaa681), including RNAs specifically regulating LLPS behavior, especially for poly-Q and PrLD-containing proteins, such as SATB1 (https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7366; https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7432; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ceb.2019.03.007; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-57994-9; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2015.09.017; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48883-x; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11241-6).

    • It should also be noted that SAF and various hnRNPs, as the most prominent proteins of nuclear matrix were many times reported to phase separate (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2019.10.001; https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.ra118.005120; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.12.080; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09902-7; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2017.12.022; https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.tm118.001189). All these aspects show that the relation between nuclear matrix, SATB1 and RNA are quite relevant to our manuscript.

    • Moreover, in light of the aforementioned information, we believe that it is much clearer to follow the protocol we did – i.e. to remove soluble proteins by CSK treatment and then, upon RNase treatment, extract the released proteins using ammonium sulfate. In an experiment utilizing whole cells, one would need to microinject RNase A into the nucleus, which 1. is very challenging for primary T cells having a radius of 3-5 micrometers, 2. is of low throughput, 3. would not allow for released protein removal which would thus make the results hard to interpret. Please note that in the reference paper, the authors used cell lines overexpressing heterologous GFP-tagged proteins, which is not related to our setup.

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    Referee #3

    Evidence, reproducibility and clarity

    Zelenka et al., focus on a T cell genome-organizing protein, SATB1, to show that SATB1 undergoes liquid liquid phase-separation (LLPS), and distinct isoforms confer different LLPS-related biophysical properties. They generate a long-isoform specific antibody and conduct several experiments to test for LLPS and compare LLPS properties between the long-isoform relative to the whole SATB1 protein population. Given that SATB1 plays important roles in T cell development and in cancer, interrogating SATB1 biophysical properties is an important question. However, there are multiple problems with the experimental setup and data that weaken their support of the conclusions.

    I will detail some of the major issues below:

    Regarding phase-separation There are several assays to determine whether a protein undergoes LLPS.

    1. One of the first the authors address is the spherocity or roundness. Indeed, formation of spherical droplets is one evidence of the liquid nature of a protein. However, the authors use fixed preparations (which can introduce artifacts), not free-floating protein, and determine roundness by showing a 2D image. Roundness should take into account the diffraction-limits of fluorescent imaging, as many structures can be imaged to appear round by the detector. There are quantifiable measurements that can be taken on 3D images to show roundness. This would best be shown using non-fixed protein.
    2. Hexanediol is another assay frequently used in phase-separation studies. However, hexanediol has many deleterious effects on the cell, even at a fraction of the concentration normally used in phase-separation studies. Authors should show controls of cell viability, control proteins that do not phase-separate, etc. See https://www.jbc.org/article/S0021-9258(21)00027-2/fulltext. Secondly, hexanediol treatment should cause phase-separated protein aggregates to disperse. It is difficult to determine from the images whether or not the aggregates actually disperse or there is just less protein. In any case, small aggregates remain even after treatment, and this appears different from most other hexanediol experiments reported in the literature where the signals become more dispersed and uniform. This is likely because the samples are fixed. One of the main features of using hexanediol in phase-separation is to show that upon washout, LLPS aggregates can reform. Because the cells are fixed, the critical aspect of this assay is not performed. A washout and LLPS recovery would control for cell viability issues described above and would provide the opportunity to show that total SATB1 protein levels did not change, but its distribution did, which is the essence of this assay in the context of LLPS.

    This review from the Tjian group is very informative and may be a good resource: http://genesdev.cshlp.org/content/33/23-24/1619

    Regarding the isoform specificity of SATB1 biophysical properties

    1. The authors generate a long isoform-specific antibody. However, the western blot is not convincing that this is indeed specific to the long isoform as there is a rather large smear. Can this be improved with antibody preabsorption? Since this is a key reagent for the manuscript, improvement in antibody quality is essential.
    2. Fig 4 Optodroplet experiment appears to show that the N-terminus of SATB1 can undergo LLPS. The results of this assay show that SATB1 has a domain that can undergo phase-separation in isolation, but it does not show that the protein itself is a phase-separating protein. The FRAP assay methods are not provided by the authors, but this is important, as continued light activation means proteins are continuously forming aggregates, and the bleaching for FRAP should be balanced with the levels of Cry2 activation. A very good description of the methods is described in the original Optodroplet paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009286741631666X?via%3Dihub#sec4
    3. The major difference between the long and short isoform of SATB1 is the 31aa segment within the IDR. However the authors find that neither the long or short isoform SATB1 forms LLPS aggregates, and the IDR alone forms aggregates in the cytoplasm (Fig5) but they do not respond to Cry2 light activation. When forced to localize to the nucleus, it does not form aggregates as well (Fig6). The short isoform also did not form any aggregates. These results seem to argue against any isoform specific phase-separation. This experiment seems critical for the story, yet it does not support their overall conclusions. The authors might consider using a different cell line or perhaps do an in vitro assay using purified protein. I am not certain what to make of the cytoplasmic aggregation, which appears to not form upon localization to the nucleus. Because of this, it is difficult to place weight on the significance of the S635A mutation and the role that a phosphorylation of SATB1 contributes to phase-separation, let alone function.

    There are many additional points of concern, but the ones listed above are perhaps the most significant in terms of the overall conclusions of the paper.

    Significance

    If convincingly demonstrated, it can advance the field by understanding how SATB1 functions. However, the data are premature to relate SATB1 to the phase separation field. Audience interested in gene regulation and phase separation would pay attention to this paper, if successfully prepared.

    The field of expertise is phase separation, development, regulation of gene expression.

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    Referee #2

    Evidence, reproducibility and clarity

    The authors have reported the existence of a 'long' SATB1 isoform which also undergoes LLPS. The authors tried to draw multiple comparisons and pointed out distinction between phase properties of SATB1 isoforms. The authors also touch upon two functional roles of SATB1. Although a wide array of assays are used, the data presented and hence the manuscript makes multiple transitions into disparate hypotheses without diving deep into a single hypothesis. As a result, the connections drawn are unclear, and do not converge at best. The authors have used number of techniques, however, the results do not support their conclusions and they appear hastily drawn. It is not clear why the authors jump from one context to the other, discussing LLPS first, then transcription, splicing, post-translational modification and finally cancer. The link between all of these isn't clear and not fully supported by data. It appears that the authors wish to focus on Satb1's physiological role in development, hence the data on breast cancer is confusing. Thus, this work suffers from multiple pitfalls. Specific comments are given below:

    Major comments

    1. Importantly, in Fig 1d, there is no statistics shown. There is no mention of number of replicates as well in the legends. Proper statistical evaluation is critical for interpreting this result.
    2. Figure 1f presents one of the weakest evidences in the manuscript. There are a number of corrections needed. Firstly, being their major and only validation figure for their custom antibody, the immunoblot is not clean, bands are fuzzy. Importantly, as the authors claim that the antibody is highly specific to 'long' SATB1, after the IP there should be only a single band (like input) of Satb1 long. But that does not seem to be the case, rather an array of bands are visible below (lane 2 top panel). This could easily mean that the shorter isoforms or non-specific protein bands are also pulled down with the 'long' form specific antibody. Therefore, raising a critical concern regarding the specificity of the antibody.
    3. Moreover, an important and direct experiment would be to clone the long isoform in a suitable vector and overexpress in the cell line (as done for the canonical isoform in Supp Fig 1a). This would unequivocally show the efficacy of the antibody and thus the following usage of the same for various assays.
    4. Related to Fig. 2 a, the authors state on Pg 5, '....the euchromatin and interchromatin regions (zones 3 & 4, Fig. 2a, b).' Although the DAPI correlation seems clear, there is no mention on how they reached the above said correlation. They should at least show a parallel speckle staining for HP1 or signature modification such as H3K4me9 STEDs for making supporting such a claim. DAPI alone is not sufficient. The authors should rectify the text thoroughly for many such interpretations without validation/reference or provide relevant data.
    5. The authors mention, '...of the different SATB1 isoforms, uncovered by the use of the two different antibodies, relied in the heterochromatin areas (zone 1), where the long isoform was less frequently...' There is no supporting figure number mentioned. The authors need to show a zone-by-zone comparison images for 'all iso' vs 'long' iso of SATB1. Just to reiterate, there is a need for a heterochromatin mark to unambiguously call out the distinction.
    6. On the same lines, '....Given the localization of SATB1 to the nuclear zones with estimated transcriptional activity (Fig. 2b, zone 3)....' How was the region labelled as transcriptionally active? For the statistical analysis of speckle count for the two antibodies' staining, the claim posited is a bit bigger. This could simply be true for that cell. The authors thus need to statistically analyse the speckle counts for multiple cells. This needs to be done for all imaging statistics done in multiple figures throughout the manuscript.
    7. For figure 2c. the authors have used 5 Fluorouridine for nascent RNA speckles. 5FU is known to have a spread signal type (with strong association to nucleolus as well). This is not the case for the image presented 2c. The authors should resolve this by showing different sets of images.
    8. Fig 2 d., the authors have suddenly jumped solely to 'all iso' Satb1 here for IP MS. Is there a reason for that? The authors either need to do this with 'long iso' antibody or remove the analysis from the manuscript as it does not add to their primary aim of the manuscript. Also, the authors have only selectively talked about two clusters? What about chromatin related proteins? It is quite intuitive to have highest enrichment of these given previous literature and even IP MS data by other groups. Thus, it is necessary to revise this thoroughly or remove it.
    9. In relation to Fig. 2f, the authors have not mentioned any of the previously published work on Satb1 CD4 specific KO, not even the RNA seq studies the other groups have reported under the same condition. Only an unpublished reference of their own (preprint) is cited. It is imperative to show how much their data corroborates with other published studies. Additionally, what is the binding site status of dysregulated genes?
    10. In context of Figure 3a and b, the authors write .'...The long SATB1 isoform speckles evinced such sensitivity as demonstrated by a titration series with increasing concentrations of 1,6-hexanediol treatment followed...' Whereas it is apparent from the image at least that overall numbers of individual speckles are instead increased at both 2 and 5%. There is although a clear spreading of restricted speckles compared to the controls. The authors should revise their figures to substantiate the associated text. Furthermore, there needs to be 'all iso' SATB1 3D SIM imaging and not just quantitation for comparison. This is also true for panel c in order to demonstrate the effect.
    11. Fig. 3 d also does not clearly demonstrate what the authors have claimed '...hexanediol treatment highly decreased colocalization between...' The figure shows at best decreased signal intensity for both SATB1 and FU. We suggest that the authors should give a statistical analysis as well for the colocalization points between the two using multiple source images. Lastly, the two images shown (control and treated), there seems to be a clearly visible magnification difference. The authors should clarify this.
    12. Figure 3f. The authors show the PC plot for Raman spectroscopy for phase behaviour due to Satb1. The experiment and its related text seems misinterpreted; the authors write...' ese bonds were probably enriched for weak interactions responsible for LLPS that are susceptible to hexanediol treatment. This shifted the cluster of WT treated cells towards the Satb1 cKO cells. However, the remaining covalent bonds differentiated the WT samples from Satb1 cKO cells......' whereas the clusters are clearly far away in 3D for both WT and KO while being closer to their respective treatments. Which is also intuitive given the sensitivity of Raman spectroscopy. Thus, it is more likely to be treatment effect and KO effect as separate. Treatment of WT leads to KO like spectra is far-fetched. Thus, the authors need to show separate PCs and modify their text thoroughly.
    13. In Fig 4. b, The authors have shown the propensity of SATB1 N terminus to phase separate using different optodroplet constructs. Although the imaging is clear, why are the regions selected not uniform when comparing various constructs?
    14. Figure 5a, the disassembly should be shown for 'long' SATB1 as well. On pg 13, the authors write '....cytoplasmic protein aggregation has been previously described for proteins containing poly-Q domains and PrLDs..' no reference given.
    15. Fig. 5d, Is there an amino-acid specific reasoning to support the authors claim of the phase behaviour due to extra peptide? They need to show a proper control with equal extra (unrelated) peptide to show the specificity. Are the shorter isoform aggregates responsive to light?
    16. Fig. 6a, The authors wished to see the effect of RNA on Satb1 nuclear localization. This is not related to the main theme of the paper, thus should be moved to supplementary (true for b as well). Importantly, the experiments should be performed with total cells to show the divergence of localization (like the paper the authors referred to) instead of matrix for clarity.
    17. Fig 6c., It is important that authors show the data for NLS+short iso data as well to prove their hypothesis.
    18. Fig 6d., The authors claim that mutating a specific P site changes the phase behaviour of the 'short iso'. Does it also increase for the long isoform? The authors need to confirm this in order to verify the effect of a single P site outside of oligomerization domain. ...' phosphorylation status; when phosphorylated it remains diffused, whereas unphosphorylated SATB1 is localized to PML bodies....' This being an important premise, thus should be moved to the results text.
    19. Pg 16,. The authors have tried to explain multiple things (concepts of self-regulation, accessibility) which is quite tangential. There is no inference to Fig 6f., which is showing the opposite to what the authors had postulated. This portion should either be removed or explained with a rationale. The writing also needs to be revised thoroughly in this section. Similarly, the discussion should also be modified.
    20. The authors should not draw conclusions based on any data which is not shown '....ed differences in chromatin accessibility at the extra exon of the SATB1 gene (data not shown), suggesting its potential involvement in alternative splicing regulation according to the "kinetic coupling" model...'. This has led to overspeculation and needs correction.

    Minor comments:

    1. On pg 4, the authors state 'Here, we utilized primary murine T cells, in which we have identified two full-length SATB1 protein isoforms.' Whereas only one 'long' isoform is identified and the other is the canonical version. The authors should correct the statement.
    2. On pg 6, related to Figure 1, the authors mention 'It should also be noted that when investigating the SATB1 protein levels, we have to bear in mind that the antibodies targeting the N-terminus of SATB1 protein cannot discriminate between the short and long isoforms'. The authors reason that their sizes are too close. It is indeed possible, and widely studied in biochemistry to assess various factors on protein migration (such as PTMs). The authors should validate this aspect (as it is important as per their premise) and perform separation based on charge as well and also use a commercial antibody to validate the same.
    3. Fig. 1 a , Is there a specific reason to generate a custom-made antibody for 'all' SATB1, using similar regions that are already commercially available. This becomes redundant otherwise, because there is no apparent difference in detection compared to the commercial one (Suppl. Fig 1a). Antibody generation strategy (1a) should be moved to supplementary. Additionally, authors have obtained the custom antibodies from a commercial source, therefore, the text should reflect the same alongside relevant details.
    4. Fig 3e: what is the control used here? In their Pearson correlation analysis, there seem to be significant reduction in control sets as well upon treatment. This needs to be clarified.
    5. Pg 10, the authors claim that '..., thus we reasoned that it may also be used to study phase separation...' But there have been numerous reports starting from 2018, which have utilized this technique in corelation to phase behaviour (albeit individual proteins). The authors should include proper citations as they are extending an idea from the same field to their specific need.
    6. For Fig 5b, there should be a comparative image for 'short' isoform.
    7. In the context of Figure 5c, the authors claim ...' Note also the higher LLPS propensity of the human long SATB1 isoform compared to the murine SATB1...' Why suddenly human and mouse comparisons are drawn? This figure should be moved to supplementary.

    Significance

    The authors have made a few novel observations such as the existence of a 'long' isoform of Satb1 with an additional exon, formation of LLPS by this isoform. This study has the potential to be of relevance to the T cell development and transcription regulation community. However, the authors fall short of building a convincing case to this effect. This is primarily due to the fact that they have focused on diverse assays to collect data but not converged on a unique theme. Further, the authors have not mentioned any of the previously published work on Satb1 CD4 specific knockouts, not even the RNAseq studies the other groups have reported under the same conditions. Satb1 knockout model could have been used more effectively to convincingly demonstrate the role/s of the two Satb1 isoforms in T cell development and function.

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  4. Note: This preprint has been reviewed by subject experts for Review Commons. Content has not been altered except for formatting.

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    Referee #1

    Evidence, reproducibility and clarity

    This paper looks at in important nuclear matrix protein SATB1, which is a well known global chromatin organizer and help chromatin loop attach to the nuclear matrix. The paper starts with identification of novel short and long form of SATB1. Both the isoform consist of a prion like low complexity domains, but the long isoform additionally contain an extra EPF domain next the Prion like low complexity domain. The paper reports that in murine cells the long isoform is 3-4 fold more abundant than the short isoform. By using STED microscopy they show SATB1 foci lie next to transcription sites in the nucleus. They conclude by looking at the spherical shape of the SATB1 foci and the susceptibility of SATB1 staining after 1,6 hexanediol treatment that SATB1 forms the small foci in the nucleus due to LLPS. The authors also use RAMAN spectroscopy to conclude a change in nuclear chemical space in absence of SATB1 but without much explanation about which chemical bond or nuclear sub structure change correspond to the change in principal component analysis from Raman spectroscopy. The authors use the light inducible aggregation cyr2 tag with the PrD domain of SATB1 and compare it with the Cry2-FUS-LC domain to conclude that the SATB1 LC domain can undergo LLPS. The authors hint at involvement of RNA and also DNA in the LLPS of the SATB1 but without going into any detail.

    The key conclusions of the paper are- A) SATB1 undergoes LLPS. But this conclusion is drawn after correlative experiments as detailed below-

    1. observation of spherical punctae by STED-which could also seem spherical due to their small size. The resolution limit achieved by the STED microscopy used in this paper is not determined or mentioned clearly.
    2. No live cell FRAP experiment with fluorescent SATB1 long or short isoform to show that these foci are liquid like
    3. Lack of better staining with antibody against the long and short SATB1 isoforms after treatment with 1,6 Hexanediol. 1, 6 Hexanediol treatment can change many other chromatin associated proteins to which SATB1 can be bound to indirectly. This experiment can
    4. Lack of in vitro reconstitution experiments with purified long and short SATB1
    5. LLPS is strongly coupled to the cellular concentration of the proteins. Authors should quantify the cellular concentration of the long and short isoform in the cells.

    Major conclusion B)- SATB1 regulates transcription and splicing.

    This was also shown previously and in this paper they show the close proximity of the transcription site and SATB1 foci by microscopy. Hexanediol tretamnt which lead to loss of colocalization between FU foci and SATB1 is also taken as an evidence in regulation of transcription is not right as the transcription foci itself can be dissolved using 1,6 Hexanediol. Although the rate of transcription is not measured quantitatively.

    Major conclusion C)-Post transcriptional modification is important for SATB1 function.

    This point is just barely touched upon in the last figure of the paper

    Overall I find that the major conclusion-point A and B , is based on very indirect experiments and needs much more convincing data and the role of SATB1 LLPS in cells should be demonstrated more rigorously. And conclusion C is barely described and needs a lot more cell biological and genetic evidence.

    I do not recommend publishing the paper in current state. The story needs much more experiment to convincingly prove the major conclusions. Further, the MS needs more careful thinking and presentation to make it streamlined.

    Minor comments:

    One of the major flaw of the paper is the use too many techniques without proper explanation. E.g. use of STED and RAMAN microscopy need controls and explanation on what is being quantified. The use of Raman microscopy to quantify the nuclear environment of nucleus is not related to the chromatin organization or LLPS of SATB1 at all. And no information is provided at all which aspect of nuclear organization is being measured in Raman and what it means for the LLPS of SATB1.

    Similarly for Hexanediol treatment, duration of treatment is missing. Hexanediol can also dissolve the liquid like transcription foci. And hence a decrease in correlation between SATB1 foci and FU foci cannot be taken as a measure of SATB1 foci connection to transcription alone

    It is not very clear how many times the STED or Raman microscopy is done on how many samples and biological replicates. Similarly for RNA sequencing number of samples and description of controls are missing. Also if the sequencing data is made publicly available is not clear.

    Can they use the all and long isoform antibodies together, then subtract the signal from long isoform to conclude about the localization of the shorth isoform ?

    Additional control is needed to report the resolution limit of Superresolution techniques-STED and 3D-SIM systems used by them.

    Would be very helpful if the zonation was plotted for the FluoroUridine(FU) also to show that Zone1 (heterochromatin) is completely depleted of FU, and is present in other regions.

    Scale bar needed figure 3d

    Perfectly rounded SATB1 foci- this does not mean LLPS. For LLPs measurement, protein condensate dynamics measurement by FRAP or fusion experiments is required. What is the size of condensates? and cellular concentration of SATB1 ? Will SATB1 undergo LLPS in vitro at similar concentrations? does SATB1 interact with DNA or RNA to undergo LLPS ?

    After careful reading of the MS I conclude that the main conclusions of the paper are very preliminary and need much more detailed experiments. So does not qualify to get published at all at this stage.

    Significance

    The present manuscript tries to connect the phase separation of SATB1 to understanding the mechanism of SATB1 function in cells. One of the major hallmarks of phase separation is dynamic, liquid-like behaviour and in absence of these measurements, it is very difficult to say that the current manuscript has made any contribution to showing that SATB1 can phase separate.

    The presence of 2 isoforms of SATB1 is a novel finding and the paper could have focussed more on this. E.g. elucidate expression of the isoform during thymocyte development and maturation.

    As a reviewer my expertise are cell biology experiments, microscopy, in vitro reconstitution assays, RNA binding proteins, RNA and RBP condensate formation. And I feel that the reconstitution experiments are an important tool for understanding phase behaviour of proteins and also to gauge if this behaviour can occur or not in cellular concentration and conditions. I do not have sufficient expertise in Raman microscopy and hence the information provided in the MS on this part was not enough to understand the experiment and conclusions drawn from it.

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