Special Issue "Systems Protobiology: Origin of Life by Mutually Catalytic Networks"
A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2019).
Interests: Systems Biology; Systems Prebiology; Mutually Catalytic Networks; Genome; Origin of Life
NASA’s definition of minimal life asserts that “Life is a self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution”. A majority opinion contends that self-sustaining and replicating capacities can only be attained via templating biopolymers such as RNA, which copy sequence information. An alternative upcoming approach claims that life began with mutually-catalytic networks, endowed with self-sustaining and reproduction capabilities, i.e. capable of reproducing their network structure and composition. The first school (“RNA first”) asserts that RNA is necessary even for a most rudimentary evolutionary process. The second (identified with “metabolism first”) claims that, under some circumstances, metabolism-like networks can evolve, and that RNA likely emerged as a product of lengthy evolution. RNA first implies that a single type of molecule with high internal complexity could jump-start life, later recruiting metabolism and enclosure. Metabolism first takes the stand that life was a multi-component network of diverse interacting molecules right from the beginning. In published research it is shown that such networks constitute not only catalysis-based metabolism, but also assume compartment and replication traits. This scenario is obviously much more life-like, and is analyzable by tools of the newly emerging disciplines of Systems Biology and Systems Chemistry.
A cornerstone of the proposed special issue is “Systems Protobiology”, indicating a merger between Systems Sciences and research that strives to define and understand early protocellular life forms. As such, papers in this Special Issue are expected to maintain standards of Systems Sciences, including rigorous chemical definitions, kinetic formalisms and adherence to irreversible thermodynamics directives, as befits a life-like dynamic network away from equilibrium. One of the main goals of Systems Protobiology is demonstrating replication/reproduction and evolvability that does not necessarily depend on long informational polymers. We encourage exploring the notion that RNA and proteins are products of evolution, implying that understanding the abiogenesis of RNA is less critical. Delineating bottom-up paths to life-like processes such as non-enzymatic catalysis, photosynthesis, the emergence of high-energy compounds, as well as membrane generation, dynamics and transport, appear highly relevant. So is the emergence of life-like oligomers of any kind, with templating being one of many ways for network molecules to interact with each other. Experimental approaches addressing mutually catalytic networks are invited, as are pertinent computer analyses and simulations, including the potential role of powerful future computing in deciphering life’s origin.
Prof. Doron Lancet
Manuscript Submission Information
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Life is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.
Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- mutually catalytic networks
- autocatalytic sets
- functional membranes
- kinetic analyses
- away from equilibrium
- computer simulations