How did life arise on Earth?

How did life arise on Earth?


What was the origin of life? What conditions had to exist for the building blocks of complex life to form? These questions are, without a doubt, real challenges for the world of science. They have been trying to solve them for years and one of the main answers, formulated in 1986 by the biologist Walter Gilbert, it is based on the idea of ​​the RNA world.

Now a new concept put forward by a team of German chemists suggests it was a new molecular species composed of RNA and peptides which caused the evolution of life to complex forms.

How did it improve into more complex life?

As highlighted in a statement the authors of this research, published in the magazine ‘Nature‘, the initial hypothesis holds that “nucleotides, the basic components of the nucleic acids A, C, G and U, emerged from the primordial soupand then short RNA molecules were formed from the nucleotides». However, since such single-stranded RNA molecules could also combine into double strands, This gave rise to the theoretical possibility that molecules could replicate themselvesthat is, to reproduce».

In the course of the evolution of life, this replication could have enhanced and at some point produced more complex life. “The idea of ​​the RNA world has the great advantage that it outlines a path through which complex biomolecules such as nucleic acids with optimized catalytic properties and, at the same time, encoding information can emerge”details the chemist and one of the authors of the research, Thomas Carell.

What does this new theory mean?

But this hypothesis is not without problems. ‘For example, RNS is a very fragile molecule, especially when stretched. Furthermore, it is not clear how the union of RNA molecules with the world of proteins could have taken place, for which the genetic material, as we know, provides the blueprints»they add in the statement.

This team of chemists has discovered a way in which this linkage could have happened. Remember that RNA is a “complicated macromolecule” which also contains “non-canon bases”. Through this research, experts have discovered that these non-canonical nucleosides are the fundamental piece “which allows the world of RNA to be linked with the world of proteins”.

Some of these molecular fossils can, when found in RNA, “adorn” with individual amino acids or even with small chains of them (peptides), according to Carell. So the result would be small chimeric RNA peptide structures when the amino acids or peptides they are present in a solution simultaneously along with RNA.

In these structures, amino acids and peptides along with RNA react with each other to create increasingly complex peptides. “In this way, we generated RNA peptide particles in the laboratory that could encode genetic information and even form elongation peptides», comment.

According to this new theory, a crucial element early on was the presence of RNA molecules that could be adorned with amino acids and peptides and thus bind them into larger peptide structures. “RNA slowly developed into an ever-improving amino acid linkage catalyst”Carell stresses. “The new idea creates a foundation on which the origin of life gradually becomes explainable”.

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