Origin Of Life

Claim: Protein structure may explain origin of life on Earth

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Oh, not this sort of thing again: Well, yes:

The researchers explored how primitive life may have originated on our planet from simple, non-living materials. They asked what properties define life as we know it and concluded that anything alive would have needed to collect and use energy, from sources such as the Sun or hydrothermal vents.

In molecular terms, this would mean that the ability to shuffle electrons was paramount to life. Since the best elements for electron transfer are metals (think standard electrical wires) and most biological activities are carried out by proteins, the researchers decided to explore the combination of the two — that is, proteins that bind metals.

They compared all existing protein structures that bind metals to establish any common features, based on the premise that these shared features were present in ancestral proteins and were diversified and passed down to create the range of proteins we see today.

Evolution of protein structures entails understanding how new folds arose from previously existing ones, so the researchers designed a computational method that found the vast majority of currently existing metal-binding proteins are somewhat similar regardless of the type of metal they bind to, the organism they come from or the functionality assigned to the protein as a whole.

Rutgers University, “New study sheds light on origins of life on Earth” at ScienceDaily (January 14, 2022)

So, if that’s the story, why isn’t life coming into existence all the time? It should be happening in the dustpan. But it isn’t.

The paper is open access.

2 Replies to “Claim: Protein structure may explain origin of life on Earth

  1. 1
    martin_r says:

    Oh, no … Darwinian researchers designed a computational method :))))

    this is so embarrassing …

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    In electronics the most ‘lifelike’ actions are not in copper and silver with easy movement of free electrons. The ‘lifelike’ stuff, valving and switching and non-linearity, happens in semiconductors like carbon and phosphorus. The ‘lifelike’ actions in life also use those elements.

    I wouldn’t think that binding a metal would lead to anything lifelike. Real life uses iron to bind oxygen, not as a signal transfer messenger. In other words, life uses those good conductors for plain inorganic chemistry, which isn’t ‘lifelike’.

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