This time it’s thioesters:
Life as we know uses energy to reproduce itself. Organisms build and break down larger molecules using a common set of reactive intermediate energy carrier molecules. These carrier molecules help chaperone the reactions which build life’s biochemical complexity and help push metabolic reactions to drive cellular reproduction. New research suggests that such compounds can be made easily in the environment in the absence of biology, providing a hint as to how life may have started. …
The team thinks it is especially fascinating that these kinds of reactions may create “cascade reactions” which make more and more complex molecules: pyruvate decomposes, helping form a thioester, which then allows peptides (smaller cousins of proteins) to form via the newly discovered thioester route. The team hopes to test this experimentally next and to create a system that can increase the number of components it contains and their complexity by itself, perhaps all the way to self-reproduction. Some modern microbes in fact use pyruvate decomposition and thioester formation assisted by FeS clusters in their metabolism, and it is possible that the reactions the team discovered recapitulate how early prebiological or biological evolution discovered them. As the lead investigator on this work, ELSI Associate Professor Shawn McGlynn says, “This work provides new connections between multiple prebiotic reaction components that may have been critical to establishing early energy metabolism on Earth.”Tokyo Institute of Technology, “New study shows how complex metabolism may have self-assembled from simple precursors” at ScienceDaily
The critical question is, why isn’t life originating from nothing all around us then?
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips – origin of life What we do and don’t know about the origin of life.