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J Theor Biol. 2001 Mar 21;209(2):181-7.

The RNA/protein symmetry hypothesis: experimental support for reverse translation of primitive proteins.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA.


Although the "RNA-world" theory, or the RNA-first theory is renowned for a promising theory of biogenesis, it is also possible that both RNAs and proteins have coevolved forming a stable metabolic complex from the very beginning. I investigated this possibility assuming that the genetic information flowed symmetrically in the era of the origin of life, i.e. the primitive translation machinery worked in both directions (from RNA to protein and from protein to RNA). According to this RNA/protein symmetry theory, the genetic information would have come from existing cellular proteins via reverse translation. This process would have been completed in a short period of time without searching an enormous RNA sequence space. Furthermore, reverse translation would have ensured biological continuity; proteins that were essential for cellular metabolism would have been utilized in the same way as before the protein sequence information would have been transferred into the RNA sequences. I also propose a possible mechanism for the process of reverse translation. The reverse translation would proceed in the 3' to 5' direction using a set of at least 20 reverse transfer RNAs (rtRNAs) that can recognize their specific amino acid residue and carry their corresponding codon. A source of genetic information would be a primary sequence of a protein molecule. Several basic steps of reverse translation were demonstrated using rtRNA(Arg).

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