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RNA. 2007 Nov;13(11):2012-9. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

Nucleotide synthetase ribozymes may have emerged first in the RNA world.

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College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, PR China.


Though the "RNA world" hypothesis has gained a central role in ideas concerning the origin of life, the scenario concerning its emergence remains uncertain. It has been speculated that the first scene may have been the emergence of a template-dependent RNA synthetase ribozyme, which catalyzed its own replication: thus, "RNA replicase." However, the speculation remains uncertain, primarily because of the large sequence length requirement of such a replicase and the lack of a convincing mechanism to ensure its self-favoring features. Instead, we propose a nucleotide synthetase ribozyme as an alternative candidate, especially considering recent experimental evidence suggesting the possibility of effective nonenzymatic template-directed synthesis of RNA. A computer simulation was conducted to support our proposal. The conditions for the emergence of the nucleotide synthetase ribozyme are discussed, based on dynamic analysis on a computer. We suggest the template-dependent RNA synthetase ribozyme emerged later, perhaps after the emergence of protocells.

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