Volume 91 Issue 20 | p. 31 | Concentrates
Issue Date: May 20, 2013 | Web Date: May 22, 2013

Iron Makes RNA Catalyze An Additional Chemical Reaction

Replicating conditions on ancient Earth adds a new twist to RNA’s possible role in the origin of life
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Nano SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: Origin of life, RNA World, catalysis, iron, redox, magnesium, electron transfer, DNA

Before photosynthesis emerged and filled the atmosphere with oxygen, Earth was essentially an oxygen-free zone, teeming with iron in its soluble 2+ form. Under those conditions, researchers report, ribonucleic acid could have been capable of even more feats than it is today (Nat. Chem. 2013, DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1649). RNA needs cations to fold properly, to catalyze chemical reactions, and to bind to other molecules. In most . . .

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