Next Article in Journal
Characteristics of Flakes Stacked Cr2N with Many Domains in Super Duplex Stainless Steel
Next Article in Special Issue
Mesomorphic, Optical and DFT Aspects of Near to Room-Temperature Calamitic Liquid Crystal
Previous Article in Journal
Crystallization and Preliminary X-ray Diffraction Study of a Novel Bacterial Homologue of Mammalian Hormone-Sensitive Lipase (halip1) from Halocynthiibacter arcticus
Previous Article in Special Issue
Photorefractive Effect in NLC Cells Caused by Anomalous Electrical Properties of ITO Electrodes
Article

Liquid Crystal Peptide/DNA Coacervates in the Context of Prebiotic Molecular Evolution

by 1,2,*,† and 3,*,†
1
Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1-IE-1 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan
2
Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, 1001 4th Ave., Suite 3201, Seattle, WA 98154, USA
3
Institut Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, CBI, ESPCI Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, 75005 Paris, France
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally.
Crystals 2020, 10(11), 964; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst10110964
Received: 24 September 2020 / Revised: 19 October 2020 / Accepted: 21 October 2020 / Published: 24 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical and Molecular Aspects of Liquid Crystals)
Liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) phenomena are ubiquitous in biological systems, as various cellular LLPS structures control important biological processes. Due to their ease of in vitro assembly into membraneless compartments and their presence within modern cells, LLPS systems have been postulated to be one potential form that the first cells on Earth took on. Recently, liquid crystal (LC)-coacervate droplets assembled from aqueous solutions of short double-stranded DNA (s-dsDNA) and poly-L-lysine (PLL) have been reported. Such LC-coacervates conjugate the advantages of an associative LLPS with the relevant long-range ordering and fluidity properties typical of LC, which reflect and propagate the physico-chemical properties of their molecular constituents. Here, we investigate the structure, assembly, and function of DNA LC-coacervates in the context of prebiotic molecular evolution and the emergence of functional protocells on early Earth. We observe through polarization microscopy that LC-coacervate systems can be dynamically assembled and disassembled based on prebiotically available environmental factors including temperature, salinity, and dehydration/rehydration cycles. Based on these observations, we discuss how LC-coacervates can in principle provide selective pressures effecting and sustaining chemical evolution within partially ordered compartments. Finally, we speculate about the potential for LC-coacervates to perform various biologically relevant properties, such as segregation and concentration of biomolecules, catalysis, and scaffolding, potentially providing additional structural complexity, such as linearization of nucleic acids and peptides within the LC ordered matrix, that could have promoted more efficient polymerization. While there are still a number of remaining open questions regarding coacervates, as protocell models, including how modern biologies acquired such membraneless organelles, further elucidation of the structure and function of different LLPS systems in the context of origins of life and prebiotic chemistry could provide new insights for understanding new pathways of molecular evolution possibly leading to the emergence of the first cells on Earth. View Full-Text
Keywords: liquid crystals; complex coacervation; phase separation; supramolecular assembly; membraneless organelles; origins of life; protocell; DNA self-assembly; prebiotic chemistry; molecular chemical evolution liquid crystals; complex coacervation; phase separation; supramolecular assembly; membraneless organelles; origins of life; protocell; DNA self-assembly; prebiotic chemistry; molecular chemical evolution
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

MDPI and ACS Style

Jia, T.Z.; Fraccia, T.P. Liquid Crystal Peptide/DNA Coacervates in the Context of Prebiotic Molecular Evolution. Crystals 2020, 10, 964. https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst10110964

AMA Style

Jia TZ, Fraccia TP. Liquid Crystal Peptide/DNA Coacervates in the Context of Prebiotic Molecular Evolution. Crystals. 2020; 10(11):964. https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst10110964

Chicago/Turabian Style

Jia, Tony Z., and Tommaso P. Fraccia. 2020. "Liquid Crystal Peptide/DNA Coacervates in the Context of Prebiotic Molecular Evolution" Crystals 10, no. 11: 964. https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst10110964

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop