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RNA world hits a brick wall?

RNA and protein ribosome components/Derek and Gustavo Caetano-Anollés

From “Early Evolution of Life: Study of Ribosome Evolution Challenges ‘RNA World’ Hypothesis” (ScienceDaily, Mar. 12, 2012), we learn,

The “RNA world” hypothesis, first promoted in 1986 in a paper in the journal Nature and defended and elaborated on for more than 25 years, posits that the first stages of molecular evolution involved RNA and not proteins, and that proteins (and DNA) emerged later, said University of Illinois crop sciences and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, who led the new study. “I’m convinced that the RNA world (hypothesis) is not correct,” Caetano-Anollés said. “That world of nucleic acids could not have existed if not tethered to proteins.”

The ribosome is a “ribonucleoprotein machine,” a complex that can have as many as 80 proteins interacting with multiple RNA molecules, so it makes sense that this assemblage is the result of a long and complicated process of gradual co-evolution, Caetano-Anollés said. Furthermore, “you can’t get RNA to perform the molecular function of protein synthesis that is necessary for the cell by itself.”

Can anyone here spell “irreducible complexity”?


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