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    Ice as a protocellular medium for RNA replication

    Attwater, J. and Wochner, A. and Pinheiro, Vitor B. and Coulson, A. and Holliger, P. (2010) Ice as a protocellular medium for RNA replication. Nature Communications 1 (6), pp. 1-8. ISSN 2041-1723.

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    Abstract

    A crucial transition in the origin of life was the emergence of an informational polymer capable of self-replication and its compartmentalization within protocellular structures. We show that the physicochemical properties of ice, a simple medium widespread on a temperate early Earth, could have mediated this transition prior to the advent of membraneous protocells. Ice not only promotes the activity of an RNA polymerase ribozyme but also protects it from hydrolytic degradation, enabling the synthesis of exceptionally long replication products. Ice furthermore relieves the dependence of RNA replication on prebiotically implausible substrate concentrations, while providing quasicellular compartmentalization within the intricate microstructure of the eutectic phase. Eutectic ice phases had previously been shown to promote the de novo synthesis of nucleotide precursors, as well as the condensation of activated nucleotides into random RNA oligomers. Our results support a wider role for ice as a predisposed environment, promoting all the steps from prebiotic synthesis to the emergence of RNA self-replication and precellular Darwinian evolution.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): biological sciences, chemical biology, evolution, molecular biology
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Biological Sciences
    Research Centre: Structural Molecular Biology, Institute of (ISMB)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2014 11:03
    Last Modified: 06 Dec 2016 11:17
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/9152

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