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Adv Space Res. 1995 Mar;15(3):345-56.

On the levels of enzymatic substrate specificity: implications for the early evolution of metabolic pathways.

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  • 1Departamento de Biología, UNAM, Mexico.


The most frequently invoked explanation for the origin of metabolic pathways is the retrograde evolution hypothesis. In contrast, according to the so-called "patchwork" theory, metabolism evolved by the recruitment of relatively inefficient small enzymes of broad specificity that could react with a wide range of chemically related substrates. In this paper it is argued that both sequence comparisons and experimental results on enzyme substrate specificity support the patchwork assembly theory. The available evidence supports previous suggestions that gene duplication events followed by a gradual neoDarwinian accumulation of mutations and other minute genetic changes lead to the narrowing and modification of enzyme function in at least some primordial metabolic pathways.

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