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Open AccessArticle

Could a Proto-Ribosome Emerge Spontaneously in the Prebiotic World?

1
Institute for Advanced Studies in Theoretical Chemistry, Schulich Faculty of Chemistry–Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
2
Fritz Haber Research Center for Molecular Dynamics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
Academic Editor: Sabine Müller
Molecules 2016, 21(12), 1701; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules21121701
Received: 20 September 2016 / Revised: 21 November 2016 / Accepted: 24 November 2016 / Published: 9 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ribozymes and RNA Catalysis)
An indispensable prerequisite for establishing a scenario of life emerging by natural processes is the requirement that the first simple proto-molecules could have had a realistic probability of self-assembly from random molecular polymers in the prebiotic world. The vestige of the proto-ribosome, which is believed to be still embedded in the contemporary ribosome, is used to assess the feasibility of such spontaneous emergence. Three concentric structural elements of different magnitudes, having a dimeric nature derived from the symmetrical region of the ribosomal large subunit, were suggested to constitute the vestige of the proto-ribosome. It is assumed to have materialized spontaneously in the prebiotic world, catalyzing non-coded peptide bond formation and simple elongation. Probabilistic and energetic considerations are applied in order to evaluate the suitability of the three contenders for being the initial proto-ribosome. The analysis points to the simplest proto-ribosome, comprised of a dimer of tRNA-like molecules presently embedded in the core of the symmetrical region, as the only one having a realistic statistical likelihood of spontaneous emergence from random RNA chains. Hence it offers a feasible starting point for a continuous evolutionary path from the prebiotic matter, through natural processes, into the intricate modern translation system. View Full-Text
Keywords: ribosome; proto-ribosome; ribosome symmetrical region; RNA world; origin of life ribosome; proto-ribosome; ribosome symmetrical region; RNA world; origin of life
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Agmon, I.C. Could a Proto-Ribosome Emerge Spontaneously in the Prebiotic World? Molecules 2016, 21, 1701.

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