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Genes 2011, 2(4), 671-688; doi:10.3390/genes2040671
Article

Functional Capabilities of the Earliest Peptides and the Emergence of Life

1,*  and 2
1 College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, Glasgow University, Glasgow G128QQ, UK 2 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 August 2011 / Revised: 14 September 2011 / Accepted: 14 September 2011 / Published: 26 September 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution and Structure of Proteins and Proteomes)
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Abstract

Considering how biological macromolecules first evolved, probably within a marine environment, it seems likely the very earliest peptides were not encoded by nucleic acids, or at least not via the genetic code as we know it. An objective of the present work is to demonstrate that sequence-independent peptides, or peptides with variable and unreliable lengths and sequences, have the potential to perform a variety of chemically useful functions such as anion and cation binding and membrane and channel formation as well as simple types of catalysis. These functions tend to be performed with the assistance of the main chain CONH atoms rather than the more variable or limited side chain atoms of the peptides presumed to exist then.
Keywords: catgrips; emergence of life; hydrothermal mound; nests; niches; peptides catgrips; emergence of life; hydrothermal mound; nests; niches; peptides
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Milner-White, E.J.; Russell, M.J. Functional Capabilities of the Earliest Peptides and the Emergence of Life. Genes 2011, 2, 671-688.

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