Navigation Links
Powerful supercomputer peers into the origin of life
Date:10/4/2010

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 4, 2010 -- Supercomputer simulations at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are helping scientists unravel how nucleic acids could have contributed to the origins of life.

A research team led by Jeremy Smith, who directs ORNL's Center for Molecular Biophysics and holds a Governor's Chair at University of Tennessee, used molecular dynamics simulation to probe an organic chemical reaction that may have been important in the evolution of ribonucleic acids, or RNA, into early life forms.

Certain types of RNA called ribozymes are capable of both storing genetic information and catalyzing chemical reactions two necessary features in the formation of life. The research team looked at a lab-grown ribozyme that catalyzes the Diels-Alder reaction, which has broad applications in organic chemistry.

"Life means making molecules that reproduce themselves, and it requires molecules and are sufficiently complex to do so," Smith said. "If a ribozyme like the Diels-Alderase is capable of doing organic chemistry to build up complex molecules, then potentially something like that could have been present to create the building blocks of life."

The research team found a theoretical explanation for why the Diels-Alder ribozyme needs magnesium to function. Computational models of the ribozyme's internal motions allowed the researchers to capture and understand the finer details of the fast-paced reaction. The static nature of conventional experimental techniques such as chemical probing and X-ray analysis had not been able to reveal the dynamics of the system.

"Computer simulations can provide insight into biological systems that you can't get any other way," Smith said. "Since these structures are changing so much, the dynamic aspects are difficult to understand, but simulation is a good way of doing it."

Smith explained how their calculations showed that the ribozyme's internal dynamics included an active site, or "mouth," which opens and closes to control the reaction. The concentration of magnesium ions directly impacts the ribozyme's movements.

"When there's no magnesium present, the mouth closes, the substrate can't get in, and the reaction can't take place. We found that magnesium ions bind to a special location on the ribozyme to keep the mouth open," Smith said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Morgan McCorkle
mccorkleml@ornl.gov
865-574-7308
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Apelin hormone injections powerfully lower blood sugar
2. Powerful online tool for protein analysis provided pro bono by Stanford geneticist
3. Newly identified gene powerful predictor of colon cancer metastasis
4. Biologists learn structure, mechanism of powerful molecular motor in virus
5. Cancer Genomics Browser gives cancer researchers a powerful new tool
6. Collaboration leads to success: Most powerful computer of its kind in western N.Y. available worldwide
7. InVitria to Unveil Powerful Cell Culture Media Component ZAP-CHO
8. Changing climate likely to make super weed even more powerful
9. Powerful nutrient cocktail can put kids with Crohns into remission
10. Powerful new molecular GPS helps probe aging and disease processes
11. Innovative Document Security Technology Proves Powerful in Avoiding Counterfeit Products
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:8/15/2017)... LLC , a medical device company focused on improving the safety ... ISO 13485 Certification, the global standard for medical device quality management ... ... for the early detection of IV infiltrations. ... "This is an important milestone for ivWatch, as it validates our ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... and ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, ... University, a leader in dairy research, today announced a ... to help reduce the chances that the global milk ... of this dairy project, Cornell University has become the ... the Food Supply Chain, a food safety initiative that ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( ... online age and identity verification solutions, announced today they ... Conference 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... and International Trade Center. Identity impacts ... and in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... , Oct. 10, 2017 International research firm Parks ... Strategy, will speak at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October ... trends in the residential home security market and how smart safety and ... Parks ... "The residential ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... The ... prestigious awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical ... during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting ... a professor in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for ... of the winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments is now ... Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis services for advanced applications. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: