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Open AccessArticle

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

Institute for Advanced Studies in Theoretical Chemistry, Schulich Faculty of Chemistry–Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
Fritz Haber Research Center for Molecular Dynamics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
Academic Editor: Sabine Müller
Molecules 2016, 21(12), 1701;
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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