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Origin of life researchers say they are one step closer to RNA world


According to a leading origin of life theory (RNA world), RNA formed spontaneously before DNA and performed its functions for early life.

From Britain’s Medical Research Council:

James Attwater and Aniela Wochner from the Holliger lab have made an RNA molecule that is able to accurately copy RNA sequences that are longer than itself – more than 200 building blocks long – uncovering a synthetic capability that could have been crucial for RNA-based early life.

Remarkably, the ribozyme was found not in a liquid watery solution but by conducting molecular evolution experiments at frozen temperatures in ice, which the researchers think may have protected the fragile RNA molecules on the surface of the violent early earth. The resulting ribozyme was not only adapted to the cold environment but could synthesize long RNA sequences at both frozen and ambient temperatures.

Informed sources note that the molecule can replicate other template RNAs if it is given activated nucleotides, the right buffer, and other advantages.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG

Of course, these advantages are assumed to have been easily available in nature at the time.

File with: No, ice was life’s birthplace, not clay

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Paul Davies on the RNA-world or what he calls "digital-first" scenarios: "For example, much of the information digitally stored in DNA must be first transcribed and translated before it becomes algorithmically meaningful in the context of the cell where it is then processed as analog information through protein interaction networks. Focusing strictly on digital storage therefore neglects this critical aspect of how biological information is processed. As we discuss below, due to the organizational structure of systems capable of processing algorithmic (instructional) information, it is not at all clear that a monomolecular system – where a single polymer plays the role of catalyst and informational carrier – is even logically consistent with the organization of information flow in living systems, because there is no possibility of separating information storage from information processing (that being such a distinctive feature of modern life). As such, digital–first systems (as currently posed) represent a rather trivial form of information processing that fails to capture the logical structure of life as we know it." "Although trivial self-replicators can undergo Darwinian evolution [23, 24], the lack of separation between algorithm and implementation implies that mono-molecular systems are divided from known life by a logical and organizational chasm that cannot be crossed by mere complexification of passive hardware. In that respect we regard the case of the RNA world as currently understood as falling short of being truly living." http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.4803 Polanyi
Ice on an early Earth? Talk about making stuff up.... Joe
Researcher Hubert P. Yockey, who supports the teaching of evolution says: “It is impossible that the origin of life was ‘proteins first.’” [nformation Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, by Hubert P. Yockey, 2005, p. 182 RNA is required to make proteins, yet proteins are involved in the production of RNA. But, what if, despite the extremely small odds, both proteins and RNA molecules did appear by chance in the same place at the same time? How likely would it be for them to cooperate to form a self-replicating, self-sustaining type of life? “The probability of this happening by chance (given a random mixture of proteins and RNA) seems astronomically low,” says Dr. Carol Cleland, a member of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Astrobiology Institute. “Yet,” she continues, “most researchers seem to assume that if they can make sense of the independent production of proteins and RNA under natural primordial conditions, the coordination will somehow take care of itself.” Regarding the current theories of how these building blocks of life could have arisen by chance, she says: “None of them have provided us with a very satisfying story about how this happened.” [NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine, “Life’s Working Definition—Does It Work?” (http://www.nasa.gov/ vision/universe/starsgalaxies/ life’s_working_definition.html)] Protein and RNA molecules must work together for a cell to survive. Scientists admit that it is highly unlikely that RNA formed by chance. The odds against even one protein forming by chance are astronomical. It is exceedingly improbable that RNA and proteins should form by chance in the same place at the same time and be able to work together. So, then, the question becomes: What takes greater faith—to believe that the millions of intricately coordinated parts of a cell arose by chance or to believe that the cell is the product of an intelligent mind? Barb
And bornagain77 and I are alternating as ticket-collector, so they can expect no mercy... Course I have to get one of the other guys to do the sums relating to the tariffs. Axel
I once read that there is an old Chinese proverb that states that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In this context, let's change that to: 'A journey of a brazillion light years, stopping at all the stations on the way, begins with a single step. But they don't get very far down the track, anyway, because they can't find their ticket.' Axel

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