Open AccessArticle
The Maximal C3 Self-Complementary Trinucleotide Circular Code X in Genes of Bacteria, Archaea, Eukaryotes, Plasmids and Viruses
Life 2017, 7(2), 20; doi:10.3390/life7020020 -
Abstract
In 1996, a set X of 20 trinucleotides was identified in genes of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes which has on average the highest occurrence in reading frame compared to its two shifted frames. Furthermore, this set X has an interesting mathematical property as
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In 1996, a set X of 20 trinucleotides was identified in genes of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes which has on average the highest occurrence in reading frame compared to its two shifted frames. Furthermore, this set X has an interesting mathematical property as X is a maximal C3 self-complementary trinucleotide circular code. In 2015, by quantifying the inspection approach used in 1996, the circular code X was confirmed in the genes of bacteria and eukaryotes and was also identified in the genes of plasmids and viruses. The method was based on the preferential occurrence of trinucleotides among the three frames at the gene population level. We extend here this definition at the gene level. This new statistical approach considers all the genes, i.e., of large and small lengths, with the same weight for searching the circular code X. As a consequence, the concept of circular code, in particular the reading frame retrieval, is directly associated to each gene. At the gene level, the circular code X is strengthened in the genes of bacteria, eukaryotes, plasmids, and viruses, and is now also identified in the genes of archaea. The genes of mitochondria and chloroplasts contain a subset of the circular code X. Finally, by studying viral genes, the circular code X was found in DNA genomes, RNA genomes, double-stranded genomes, and single-stranded genomes. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Small and Random Peptides: An Unexplored Reservoir of Potentially Functional Primitive Organocatalysts. The Case of Seryl-Histidine
Life 2017, 7(2), 19; doi:10.3390/life7020019 -
Abstract
Catalysis is an essential feature of living systems biochemistry, and probably, it played a key role in primordial times, helping to produce more complex molecules from simple ones. However, enzymes, the biocatalysts par excellence, were not available in such an ancient context, and
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Catalysis is an essential feature of living systems biochemistry, and probably, it played a key role in primordial times, helping to produce more complex molecules from simple ones. However, enzymes, the biocatalysts par excellence, were not available in such an ancient context, and so, instead, small molecule catalysis (organocatalysis) may have occurred. The best candidates for the role of primitive organocatalysts are amino acids and short random peptides, which are believed to have been available in an early period on Earth. In this review, we discuss the occurrence of primordial organocatalysts in the form of peptides, in particular commenting on reports about seryl-histidine dipeptide, which have recently been investigated. Starting from this specific case, we also mention a peptide fragment condensation scenario, as well as other potential roles of peptides in primordial times. The review actually aims to stimulate further investigation on an unexplored field of research, namely one that specifically looks at the catalytic activity of small random peptides with respect to reactions relevant to prebiotic chemistry and early chemical evolution. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Prebiotic Factors Influencing the Activity of a Ligase Ribozyme
Life 2017, 7(2), 17; doi:10.3390/life7020017 -
Abstract
An RNA-lipid origin of life scenario provides a plausible route for compartmentalized replication of an informational polymer and subsequent division of the container. However, a full narrative to form such RNA protocells implies that catalytic RNA molecules, called ribozymes, can operate in the
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An RNA-lipid origin of life scenario provides a plausible route for compartmentalized replication of an informational polymer and subsequent division of the container. However, a full narrative to form such RNA protocells implies that catalytic RNA molecules, called ribozymes, can operate in the presence of self-assembled vesicles composed of prebiotically relevant constituents, such as fatty acids. Hereby, we subjected a newly engineered truncated variant of the L1 ligase ribozyme, named tL1, to various environmental conditions that may have prevailed on the early Earth with the objective to find a set of control parameters enabling both tL1-catalyzed ligation and formation of stable myristoleic acid (MA) vesicles. The separate and concurrent effects of temperature, concentrations of Mg2+, MA, polyethylene glycol and various solutes were investigated. The most favorable condition tested consists of 100 mM NaCl, 1 mM Mg2+, 5 mM MA, and 4 °C temperature, whereas the addition of Mg2+-chelating solutes, such as citrate, tRNAs, aspartic acid, and nucleoside triphosphates severely inhibits the reaction. These results further solidify the RNA-lipid world hypothesis and stress the importance of using a systems chemistry approach whereby a wide range of prebiotic factors interfacing with ribozymes are considered. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evo-SETI: A Mathematical Tool for Cladistics, Evolution, and SETI
Life 2017, 7(2), 18; doi:10.3390/life7020018 -
Abstract
The discovery of new exoplanets makes us wonder where each new exoplanet stands along its way to develop life as we know it on Earth. Our Evo-SETI Theory is a mathematical way to face this problem. We describe cladistics and evolution by virtue
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The discovery of new exoplanets makes us wonder where each new exoplanet stands along its way to develop life as we know it on Earth. Our Evo-SETI Theory is a mathematical way to face this problem. We describe cladistics and evolution by virtue of a few statistical equations based on lognormal probability density functions (pdf) in the time. We call b-lognormal a lognormal pdf starting at instant b (birth). Then, the lifetime of any living being becomes a suitable b-lognormal in the time. Next, our “Peak-Locus Theorem” translates cladistics: each species created by evolution is a b-lognormal whose peak lies on the exponentially growing number of living species. This exponential is the mean value of a stochastic process called “Geometric Brownian Motion” (GBM). Past mass extinctions were all-lows of this GBM. In addition, the Shannon Entropy (with a reversed sign) of each b-lognormal is the measure of how evolved that species is, and we call it EvoEntropy. The “molecular clock” is re-interpreted as the EvoEntropy straight line in the time whenever the mean value is exactly the GBM exponential. We were also able to extend the Peak-Locus Theorem to any mean value other than the exponential. For example, we derive in this paper for the first time the EvoEntropy corresponding to the Markov-Korotayev (2007) “cubic” evolution: a curve of logarithmic increase. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Self-Referential Encoding on Modules of Anticodon Pairs—Roots of the Biological Flow System
Life 2017, 7(2), 16; doi:10.3390/life7020016 -
Abstract
The proposal that the genetic code was formed on the basis of (proto)tRNA Dimer-Directed Protein Synthesis is reviewed and updated. The tRNAs paired through the anticodon loops are an indication on the process. Dimers are considered mimics of the ribosomes—structures that hold tRNAs
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The proposal that the genetic code was formed on the basis of (proto)tRNA Dimer-Directed Protein Synthesis is reviewed and updated. The tRNAs paired through the anticodon loops are an indication on the process. Dimers are considered mimics of the ribosomes—structures that hold tRNAs together and facilitate the transferase reaction, and of the translation process—anticodons are at the same time codons for each other. The primitive protein synthesis system gets stabilized when the product peptides are stable and apt to bind the producers therewith establishing a self-stimulating production cycle. The chronology of amino acid encoding starts with Glycine and Serine, indicating the metabolic support of the Glycine-Serine C1-assimilation pathway, which is also consistent with evidence on origins of bioenergetics mechanisms. Since it is not possible to reach for substrates simpler than C1 and compounds in the identified pathway are apt for generating the other central metabolic routes, it is considered that protein synthesis is the beginning and center of a succession of sink-effective mechanisms that drive the formation and evolution of the metabolic flow system. Plasticity and diversification of proteins construct the cellular system following the orientation given by the flow and implementing it. Nucleic acid monomers participate in bioenergetics and the polymers are conservative memory systems for the synthesis of proteins. Protoplasmic fission is the final sink-effective mechanism, part of cell reproduction, guaranteeing that proteins don’t accumulate to saturation, which would trigger inhibition. Full article
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Open AccessConcept Paper
What Froze the Genetic Code?
Life 2017, 7(2), 14; doi:10.3390/life7020014 -
Abstract
The frozen accident theory of the Genetic Code was a proposal by Francis Crick that attempted to explain the universal nature of the Genetic Code and the fact that it only contains information for twenty amino acids. Fifty years later, it is clear
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The frozen accident theory of the Genetic Code was a proposal by Francis Crick that attempted to explain the universal nature of the Genetic Code and the fact that it only contains information for twenty amino acids. Fifty years later, it is clear that variations to the universal Genetic Code exist in nature and that translation is not limited to twenty amino acids. However, given the astonishing diversity of life on earth, and the extended evolutionary time that has taken place since the emergence of the extant Genetic Code, the idea that the translation apparatus is for the most part immobile remains true. Here, we will offer a potential explanation to the reason why the code has remained mostly stable for over three billion years, and discuss some of the mechanisms that allow species to overcome the intrinsic functional limitations of the protein synthesis machinery. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Thermal Condensation of Glycine and Alanine on Metal Ferrite Surface: Primitive Peptide Bond Formation Scenario
Life 2017, 7(2), 15; doi:10.3390/life7020015 -
Abstract
The amino acid condensation reaction on a heterogeneous mineral surface has been regarded as one of the important pathways for peptide bond formation. Keeping this in view, we have studied the oligomerization of the simple amino acids, glycine and alanine, on nickel ferrite
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The amino acid condensation reaction on a heterogeneous mineral surface has been regarded as one of the important pathways for peptide bond formation. Keeping this in view, we have studied the oligomerization of the simple amino acids, glycine and alanine, on nickel ferrite (NiFe2O4), cobalt ferrite (CoFe2O4), copper ferrite (CuFe2O4), zinc ferrite (ZnFe2O4), and manganese ferrite (MnFe2O4) nanoparticles surfaces, in the temperature range from 50–120 °C for 1–35 days, without applying any wetting/drying cycles. Among the metal ferrites tested for their catalytic activity, NiFe2O4 produced the highest yield of products by oligomerizing glycine to the trimer level and alanine to the dimer level, whereas MnFe2O4 was the least efficient catalyst, producing the lowest yield of products, as well as shorter oligomers of amino acids under the same set of experimental conditions. It produced primarily diketopiperazine (Ala) with a trace amount of alanine dimer from alanine condensation, while glycine was oligomerized to the dimer level. The trend in product formation is in accordance with the surface area of the minerals used. A temperature as low as 50 °C can even favor peptide bond formation in the present study, which is important in the sense that the condensation process is highly feasible without any sort of localized heat that may originate from volcanoes or hydrothermal vents. However, at a high temperature of 120 °C, anhydrides of glycine and alanine formation are favored, while the optimum temperature for the highest yield of product formation was found to be 90 °C. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Genetic Code and RNA-Amino Acid Affinities
Life 2017, 7(2), 13; doi:10.3390/life7020013 -
Abstract
A significant part of the genetic code likely originated via a chemical interaction, which should be experimentally verifiable. One possible verification relates bound amino acids (or perhaps their activated congeners) and ribonucleotide sequences within cognate RNA binding sites. To introduce this interaction, I
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A significant part of the genetic code likely originated via a chemical interaction, which should be experimentally verifiable. One possible verification relates bound amino acids (or perhaps their activated congeners) and ribonucleotide sequences within cognate RNA binding sites. To introduce this interaction, I first summarize how amino acids function as targets for RNA binding. Then the experimental method for selecting relevant RNA binding sites is characterized. The selection method’s characteristics are related to the investigation of the RNA binding site model treated at the outset. Finally, real binding sites from selection and also from extant natural RNAs (for example, the Sulfobacillus guanidinium riboswitch) are connected to the genetic code, and by extension, to the evolutionary progression that produced the code. During this process, peptides may have been produced directly on an instructive amino acid binding RNA (a DRT; Direct RNA Template). Combination of observed stereochemical selectivity with adaptation and co-evolutionary refinement is logically required, and also potentially sufficient, to create the striking order conserved throughout the present coding table. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Efforts and Challenges in Engineering the Genetic Code
Life 2017, 7(1), 12; doi:10.3390/life7010012 -
Abstract
This year marks the 48th anniversary of Francis Crick’s seminal work on the origin of the genetic code, in which he first proposed the “frozen accident” hypothesis to describe evolutionary selection against changes to the genetic code that cause devastating global proteome modification.
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This year marks the 48th anniversary of Francis Crick’s seminal work on the origin of the genetic code, in which he first proposed the “frozen accident” hypothesis to describe evolutionary selection against changes to the genetic code that cause devastating global proteome modification. However, numerous efforts have demonstrated the viability of both natural and artificial genetic code variations. Recent advances in genetic engineering allow the creation of synthetic organisms that incorporate noncanonical, or even unnatural, amino acids into the proteome. Currently, successful genetic code engineering is mainly achieved by creating orthogonal aminoacyl-tRNA/synthetase pairs to repurpose stop and rare codons or to induce quadruplet codons. In this review, we summarize the current progress in genetic code engineering and discuss the challenges, current understanding, and future perspectives regarding genetic code modification. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Micrometer-Scale Membrane Transition of Supported Lipid Bilayer Membrane Reconstituted with Cytosol of Dictyostelium discoideum
Life 2017, 7(1), 11; doi:10.3390/life7010011 -
Abstract
Background: The transformation of the supported lipid bilayer (SLB) membrane by extracted cytosol from living resources, has recently drawn much attention. It enables us to address the question of whether the purified phospholipid SLB membrane, including lipids related to amoeba locomotion, which was
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Background: The transformation of the supported lipid bilayer (SLB) membrane by extracted cytosol from living resources, has recently drawn much attention. It enables us to address the question of whether the purified phospholipid SLB membrane, including lipids related to amoeba locomotion, which was discussed in many previous studies, exhibits membrane deformation in the presence of cytosol extracted from amoeba; Methods: In this report, a method for reconstituting a supported lipid bilayer (SLB) membrane, composed of purified phospholipids and cytosol extracted from Dictyostelium discoideum, is described. This technique is a new reconstitution method combining the artificial constitution of membranes with the reconstitution using animate cytosol (without precise purification at a molecular level), contributing to membrane deformation analysis; Results: The morphology transition of a SLB membrane composed of phosphatidylcholines, after the addition of cytosolic extract, was traced using a confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscope. As a result, pore formation in the SLB membrane was observed and phosphatidylinositides incorporated into the SLB membrane tended to suppress pore formation and expansion; Conclusions: The current findings imply that phosphatidylinositides have the potential to control cytoplasm activity and bind to a phosphoinositide-containing SLB membrane. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Future of the Genetic Code
Life 2017, 7(1), 10; doi:10.3390/life7010010 -
Abstract
The methods for establishing synthetic lifeforms with rewritten genetic codes comprising non-canonical amino acids (NCAA) in addition to canonical amino acids (CAA) include proteome-wide replacement of CAA, insertion through suppression of nonsense codon, and insertion via the pyrrolysine and selenocysteine pathways. Proteome-wide reassignments
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The methods for establishing synthetic lifeforms with rewritten genetic codes comprising non-canonical amino acids (NCAA) in addition to canonical amino acids (CAA) include proteome-wide replacement of CAA, insertion through suppression of nonsense codon, and insertion via the pyrrolysine and selenocysteine pathways. Proteome-wide reassignments of nonsense codons and sense codons are also under development. These methods enable the application of NCAAs to enrich both fundamental and applied aspects of protein chemistry and biology. Sense codon reassignment to NCAA could incur problems arising from the usage of anticodons as identity elements on tRNA, and possible misreading of NNY codons by UNN anticodons. Evidence suggests that the problem of anticodons as identity elements can be diminished or resolved through removal from the tRNA of all identity elements besides the anticodon, and the problem of misreading of NNY codons by UNN anticodon can be resolved by the retirement of both the UNN anticodon and its complementary NNA codon from the proteome in the event that a restrictive post-transcriptional modification of the UNN anticodon by host enzymes to prevent the misreading cannot be obtained. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Highly Conserved Elements and Chromosome Structure Evolution in Mitochondrial Genomes in Ciliates
Life 2017, 7(1), 9; doi:10.3390/life7010009 -
Abstract
Recent phylogenetic analyses are incorporating ultraconserved elements (UCEs) and highly conserved elements (HCEs). Models of evolution of the genome structure and HCEs initially faced considerable algorithmic challenges, which gave rise to (often unnatural) constraints on these models, even for conceptually simple tasks such
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Recent phylogenetic analyses are incorporating ultraconserved elements (UCEs) and highly conserved elements (HCEs). Models of evolution of the genome structure and HCEs initially faced considerable algorithmic challenges, which gave rise to (often unnatural) constraints on these models, even for conceptually simple tasks such as the calculation of distance between two structures or the identification of UCEs. In our recent works, these constraints have been addressed with fast and efficient solutions with no constraints on the underlying models. These approaches have led us to an unexpected result: for some organelles and taxa, the genome structure and HCE set, despite themselves containing relatively little information, still adequately resolve the evolution of species. We also used the HCE identification to search for promoters and regulatory elements that characterize the functional evolution of the genome. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Bioinformatic Analysis Reveals Archaeal tRNATyr and tRNATrp Identities in Bacteria
Life 2017, 7(1), 8; doi:10.3390/life7010008 -
Abstract
The tRNA identity elements for some amino acids are distinct between the bacterial and archaeal domains. Searching in recent genomic and metagenomic sequence data, we found some candidate phyla radiation (CPR) bacteria with archaeal tRNA identity for Tyr-tRNA and Trp-tRNA synthesis. These bacteria
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The tRNA identity elements for some amino acids are distinct between the bacterial and archaeal domains. Searching in recent genomic and metagenomic sequence data, we found some candidate phyla radiation (CPR) bacteria with archaeal tRNA identity for Tyr-tRNA and Trp-tRNA synthesis. These bacteria possess genes for tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase (TyrRS) and tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase (TrpRS) predicted to be derived from DPANN superphylum archaea, while the cognate tRNATyr and tRNATrp genes reveal bacterial or archaeal origins. We identified a trace of domain fusion and swapping in the archaeal-type TyrRS gene of a bacterial lineage, suggesting that CPR bacteria may have used this mechanism to create diverse proteins. Archaeal-type TrpRS of bacteria and a few TrpRS species of DPANN archaea represent a new phylogenetic clade (named TrpRS-A). The TrpRS-A open reading frames (ORFs) are always associated with another ORF (named ORF1) encoding an unknown protein without global sequence identity to any known protein. However, our protein structure prediction identified a putative HIGH-motif and KMSKS-motif as well as many α-helices that are characteristic of class I aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase (aaRS) homologs. These results provide another example of the diversity of molecular components that implement the genetic code and provide a clue to the early evolution of life and the genetic code. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
On the Uniqueness of the Standard Genetic Code
Life 2017, 7(1), 7; doi:10.3390/life7010007 -
Abstract
In this work, we determine the biological and mathematical properties that are sufficient and necessary to uniquely determine both the primeval RNY (purine-any base-pyrimidine) code and the standard genetic code (SGC). These properties are: the evolution of the SGC from the RNY code;
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In this work, we determine the biological and mathematical properties that are sufficient and necessary to uniquely determine both the primeval RNY (purine-any base-pyrimidine) code and the standard genetic code (SGC). These properties are: the evolution of the SGC from the RNY code; the degeneracy of both codes, and the non-degeneracy of the assignments of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) to amino acids; the wobbling property; the consideration that glycine was the first amino acid; the topological and symmetrical properties of both codes. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Homocysteine Editing, Thioester Chemistry, Coenzyme A, and the Origin of Coded Peptide Synthesis †
Life 2017, 7(1), 6; doi:10.3390/life7010006 -
Abstract
Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AARSs) have evolved “quality control” mechanisms which prevent tRNA aminoacylation with non-protein amino acids, such as homocysteine, homoserine, and ornithine, and thus their access to the Genetic Code. Of the ten AARSs that possess editing function, five edit homocysteine: Class I
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Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AARSs) have evolved “quality control” mechanisms which prevent tRNA aminoacylation with non-protein amino acids, such as homocysteine, homoserine, and ornithine, and thus their access to the Genetic Code. Of the ten AARSs that possess editing function, five edit homocysteine: Class I MetRS, ValRS, IleRS, LeuRS, and Class II LysRS. Studies of their editing function reveal that catalytic modules of these AARSs have a thiol-binding site that confers the ability to catalyze the aminoacylation of coenzyme A, pantetheine, and other thiols. Other AARSs also catalyze aminoacyl-thioester synthesis. Amino acid selectivity of AARSs in the aminoacyl thioesters formation reaction is relaxed, characteristic of primitive amino acid activation systems that may have originated in the Thioester World. With homocysteine and cysteine as thiol substrates, AARSs support peptide bond synthesis. Evolutionary origin of these activities is revealed by genomic comparisons, which show that AARSs are structurally related to proteins involved in coenzyme A/sulfur metabolism and non-coded peptide bond synthesis. These findings suggest that the extant AARSs descended from ancestral forms that were involved in non-coded Thioester-dependent peptide synthesis, functionally similar to the present-day non-ribosomal peptide synthetases. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Role of Lipid Membranes in Life’s Origin
Life 2017, 7(1), 5; doi:10.3390/life7010005 -
Abstract
At some point in early evolution, life became cellular. Assuming that this step was required for the origin of life, there would necessarily be a pre-existing source of amphihilic compounds capable of assembling into membranous compartments. It is possible to make informed guesses
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At some point in early evolution, life became cellular. Assuming that this step was required for the origin of life, there would necessarily be a pre-existing source of amphihilic compounds capable of assembling into membranous compartments. It is possible to make informed guesses about the properties of such compounds and the conditions most conducive to their self-assembly into boundary structures. The membranes were likely to incorporate mixtures of hydrocarbon derivatives between 10 and 20 carbons in length with carboxylate or hydroxyl head groups. Such compounds can be synthesized by chemical reactions and small amounts were almost certainly present in the prebiotic environment. Membrane assembly occurs most readily in low ionic strength solutions with minimal content of salt and divalent cations, which suggests that cellular life began in fresh water pools associated with volcanic islands rather than submarine hydrothermal vents. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Life in 2016
Life 2017, 7(1), 4; doi:10.3390/life7010004 -
Abstract The editors of Life would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Selection of Prebiotic Molecules in Amphiphilic Environments
Life 2017, 7(1), 3; doi:10.3390/life7010003 -
Abstract
A basic problem in all postulated pathways of prebiotic chemistry is the low concentration which generally is expected for interesting reactants in fluid environments. Even though compounds, like nucleobases, sugars or peptides, principally may form spontaneously under environmental conditions, they will always be
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A basic problem in all postulated pathways of prebiotic chemistry is the low concentration which generally is expected for interesting reactants in fluid environments. Even though compounds, like nucleobases, sugars or peptides, principally may form spontaneously under environmental conditions, they will always be rapidly diluted in an aqueous environment. In addition, any such reaction leads to side products which often exceed the desired compound and generally hamper the first steps of a subsequent molecular evolution. Therefore, a mechanism of selection and accumulation of relevant prebiotic compounds seems to be crucial for molecular evolution. A very efficient environment for selection and accumulation can be found in the fluid continuum circulating in tectonic fault zones. Vesicles which form spontaneously at a depth of approximately 1 km present a selective trap for amphiphilic molecules, especially for peptides composed of hydrophilic and hydrophobic amino acids in a suitable sequence. The accumulation effect is shown in a numeric simulation on a simplified model. Further, possible mechanisms of a molecular evolution in vesicle membranes are discussed. Altogether, the proposed scenario can be seen as an ideal environment for constant, undisturbed molecular evolution in and on cell-like compartments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Mobility of a Mononucleotide within a Lipid Matrix: A Neutron Scattering Study
Life 2017, 7(1), 2; doi:10.3390/life7010002 -
Abstract
An essential question in studies on the origins of life is how nucleic acids were first synthesized and then incorporated into compartments about 4 billion years ago. A recent discovery is that guided polymerization within organizing matrices could promote a non-enzymatic condensation reaction
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An essential question in studies on the origins of life is how nucleic acids were first synthesized and then incorporated into compartments about 4 billion years ago. A recent discovery is that guided polymerization within organizing matrices could promote a non-enzymatic condensation reaction allowing the formation of RNA-like polymers, followed by encapsulation in lipid membranes. Here, we used neutron scattering and deuterium labelling to investigate 5′-adenosine monophosphate (AMP) molecules captured in a multilamellar phospholipid matrix. The aim of the research was to determine and compare how mononucleotides are captured and differently organized within matrices and multilamellar phospholipid structures and to explore the role of water in organizing the system to determine at which level the system becomes sufficiently anhydrous to lock the AMP molecules into an organized structure and initiate ester bond synthesis. Elastic incoherent neutron scattering experiments were thus employed to investigate the changes of the dynamic properties of AMP induced by embedding the molecules within the lipid matrix. The influence of AMP addition to the lipid membrane organization was determined through diffraction measurement, which also helped us to define the best working Q range for dynamical data analysis with respect to specific hydration. The use of different complementary instruments allowed coverage of a wide time-scale domain, from ns to ps, of atomic mean square fluctuations, providing evidence of a well-defined dependence of the AMP dynamics on the hydration level. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Arsenite as an Electron Donor for Anoxygenic Photosynthesis: Description of Three Strains of Ectothiorhodospira from Mono Lake, California and Big Soda Lake, Nevada
Life 2017, 7(1), 1; doi:10.3390/life7010001 -
Abstract
Three novel strains of photosynthetic bacteria from the family Ectothiorhodospiraceae were isolated from soda lakes of the Great Basin Desert, USA by employing arsenite (As(III)) as the sole electron donor in the enrichment/isolation process. Strain PHS-1 was previously isolated from a hot spring
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Three novel strains of photosynthetic bacteria from the family Ectothiorhodospiraceae were isolated from soda lakes of the Great Basin Desert, USA by employing arsenite (As(III)) as the sole electron donor in the enrichment/isolation process. Strain PHS-1 was previously isolated from a hot spring in Mono Lake, while strain MLW-1 was obtained from Mono Lake sediment, and strain BSL-9 was isolated from Big Soda Lake. Strains PHS-1, MLW-1, and BSL-9 were all capable of As(III)-dependent growth via anoxygenic photosynthesis and contained homologs of arxA, but displayed different phenotypes. Comparisons were made with three related species: Ectothiorhodospira shaposhnikovii DSM 2111, Ectothiorhodospira shaposhnikovii DSM 243T, and Halorhodospira halophila DSM 244. All three type cultures oxidized arsenite to arsenate but did not grow with As(III) as the sole electron donor. DNA–DNA hybridization indicated that strain PHS-1 belongs to the same species as Ect. shaposhnikovii DSM 2111 (81.1% sequence similarity), distinct from Ect. shaposhnikovii DSM 243T (58.1% sequence similarity). These results suggest that the capacity for light-driven As(III) oxidation is a common phenomenon among purple photosynthetic bacteria in soda lakes. However, the use of As(III) as a sole electron donor to sustain growth via anoxygenic photosynthesis is confined to novel isolates that were screened for by this selective cultivation criterion. Full article
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