Navigation Links
Molecules assemble in water, hint at origins of life
Date:2/20/2013

The base pairs that hold together two pieces of RNA, the older cousin of DNA, are some of the most important molecular interactions in living cells. Many scientists believe that these base pairs were part of life from the very beginning and that RNA was one of the first polymers of life. But there is a problem. The RNA bases don't form base pairs in water unless they are connected to a polymer backbone, a trait that has baffled origin-of-life scientists for decades. If the bases don't pair before they are part of polymers, how would the bases have been selected out from the many molecules in the "prebiotic soup" so that RNA polymers could be formed?

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are exploring an alternate theory for the origin of RNA: they think the RNA bases may have evolved from a pair of molecules distinct from the bases we have today. This theory looks increasingly attractive, as the Georgia Tech group was able to achieve efficient, highly ordered self-assembly in water with small molecules that are similar to the bases of RNA. These "proto-RNA bases" spontaneously assemble into gene-length linear stacks, suggesting that the genes of life could have gotten started from these or similar molecules. The research is published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The discovery was made by a team of scientists led by Georgia Tech Professor Nicholas Hud, who has been trying for years to find simple molecules that will assemble in water and be capable of forming RNA or its ancestor. Hud's group knew that they were on to something when they added a small chemical tail to a proto-RNA base and saw it spontaneously form linear assemblies with another proto-RNA base. In some cases, the results produced 18,000 nicely ordered, stacked molecules in one long structure.

"Thinking about the origin of RNA reminds me of the paradox of your grandfather's ax," said Hud, a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "If your father changed the handle and you changed the head, is it the same ax? We see RNA the same way. Its chemical structure might have changed over time, but it was in continual use so we can consider it to be the same molecule."

Hud concedes that scientists may never be 100 percent sure what existed four billion years ago when a complex mixture of chemicals started to work together to start life. His next goal is to determine whether the proto-RNA bases can be linked by a backbone to form a polymer that could have functioned as a genetic material.

Georgia Tech partnered with the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona, Spain on the project. The proto-RNA's two-component, self-assembling system consisted of cyanuric acid (CA) and TAPAS, a derivative of triaminopyrimidine (TAP).

In addition to addressing the origin-of-life questions, Hud suggests the self-assembly process could be used in the future to create new materials, such as nanowires.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-385-2966
Georgia Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. How our cells cope with toxic small molecules
2. How computers push on the molecules they simulate
3. Dance of water molecules turns fire-colored beetles into antifreeze artists
4. A class of RNA molecules protects germ cells from damage, Penn vet researchers show
5. Researchers develop new stamping process to pattern biomolecules at high resolution
6. Nano-velcro clasps heavy metal molecules in its grips
7. Weighing molecules 1 at a time
8. New model gives hands-on help for learning the secrets of molecules
9. Iowa State, Ames Lab researchers invent new tool to study single biological molecules
10. Scientists reassemble the backbone of life with a particle accelerator
11. Scientists reassemble the backbone of life with a particle acceleratorynchrotron X-rays
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Molecules assemble in water, hint at origins of life
(Date:2/1/2017)... 1, 2017 IDTechEx Research, a leading provider ... announces the availability of a new report, Sensors for Robotics: ... Continue Reading ... ... robots. Source: IDTechEx Report "Sensors for Robotics: Technologies, Markets and Forecasts ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... CITY , Jan. 26, 2017  Crossmatch, a ... unveiled a new solution aimed at combatting fraud, waste ... solution was introduced at the Action on Disaster Relief ... key meeting point for UN agencies and foreign assistance ... Fraud, waste and abuse are a largely unacknowledged ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 24, 2017 Biopharm Reports ... the laboratory use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy ... end-users and profiled current practices, developments, trends and ... well as growth and opportunities. These areas include ... NMR instruments, needs and innovation requirements, hyphenated NMR ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/24/2017)... -- Symic Bio, a biopharmaceutical company focused on matrix ... announced today the completion of enrollment for the SHIELD ... trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of SB-030, ... restenosis following angioplasty. "We,re pleased to ... Nathan Bachtell , M.D., Chief Medical Officer of ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... -- VWR Corporation (NASDAQ: VWR), the leading global independent provider of ... reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full ... 4Q16 record quarterly net sales of $1.13 billion, ... 4Q16 EMEA-APAC segment net sales ... Americas net sales increased 2.5%, or down 0.9% on an ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - The Fight Against Cancer Innovation ... (OICR) are pleased to report that Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. ... Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. (JJDC) as ... HealthCap, TPG Biotechnology Partners, and Genesys Capital, as well ... ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... Brain Sentinel, ... begin marketing the SPEAC® System, the Brain Sentinel® Seizure Monitoring and Alerting System. ... healthcare facilities during periods of rest. A lightweight, non-invasive monitor is placed on ...
Breaking Biology Technology: