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Life 2014, 4(4), 598-620; doi:10.3390/life4040598

Synergism and Mutualism in Non-Enzymatic RNA Polymerization

Department of Polymer Science, The University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-3909, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 September 2014 / Revised: 15 October 2014 / Accepted: 17 October 2014 / Published: 3 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protocells - Designs for Life)
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The link between non-enzymatic RNA polymerization and RNA self-replication is a key step towards the “RNA world” and still far from being solved, despite extensive research. Clay minerals, lipids and, more recently, peptides were found to catalyze the non-enzymatic synthesis of RNA oligomers. Herein, a review of the main models for the formation of the first RNA polymers is presented in such a way as to emphasize the cooperation between life’s building blocks in their emergence and evolution. A logical outcome of the previous results is a combination of these models, in which RNA polymerization might have been catalyzed cooperatively by clays, lipids and peptides in one multi-component prebiotic soup. The resulting RNAs and oligopeptides might have mutualistically evolved towards functional RNAs and catalytic peptides, preceding the first RNA replication, thus supporting an RNA-peptide world. The investigation of such a system is a formidable challenge, given its complexity deriving from a tremendously large number of reactants and innumerable products. A rudimentary experimental design is outlined, which could be used in an initial attempt to study a quaternary component system. View Full-Text
Keywords: activated nucleotides; peptides; single-chain amphiphile; mineral surfaces; protocell; organocatalysis; RNA polymerization; RNA-peptide world activated nucleotides; peptides; single-chain amphiphile; mineral surfaces; protocell; organocatalysis; RNA polymerization; RNA-peptide world

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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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Kaddour, H.; Sahai, N. Synergism and Mutualism in Non-Enzymatic RNA Polymerization. Life 2014, 4, 598-620.

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