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Phosphates as Energy Sources to Expand Metabolic Networks

Hubei Key Laboratory of Agricultural Bioinformatics, College of Informatics, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China
Beijing National Center for Molecular Sciences, Institute of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 April 2019 / Revised: 18 May 2019 / Accepted: 21 May 2019 / Published: 22 May 2019
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Phosphates are essential for modern metabolisms. A recent study reported a phosphate-free metabolic network and suggested that thioesters, rather than phosphates, could alleviate thermodynamic bottlenecks of network expansion. As a result, it was considered that a phosphorus-independent metabolism could exist before the phosphate-based genetic coding system. To explore the origin of phosphorus-dependent metabolism, the present study constructs a protometabolic network that contains phosphates prebiotically available using computational systems biology approaches. It is found that some primitive phosphorylated intermediates could greatly alleviate thermodynamic bottlenecks of network expansion. Moreover, the phosphorus-dependent metabolic network exhibits several ancient features. Taken together, it is concluded that phosphates played a role as important as that of thioesters during the origin and evolution of metabolism. Both phosphorus and sulfur are speculated to be critical to the origin of life. View Full-Text
Keywords: origin of life; metabolism; phosphates; network expansion simulation; thermodynamic bottleneck; molecular clocks origin of life; metabolism; phosphates; network expansion simulation; thermodynamic bottleneck; molecular clocks

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Tian, T.; Chu, X.-Y.; Yang, Y.; Zhang, X.; Liu, Y.-M.; Gao, J.; Ma, B.-G.; Zhang, H.-Y. Phosphates as Energy Sources to Expand Metabolic Networks. Life 2019, 9, 43.

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