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Pure Appl. Chem. 76(12), 2085-2099, 2004

Pure and Applied Chemistry

Vol. 76, Issue 12

Modeling prebiotic catalysis with nucleic acid-like polymers and its implications for the proposed RNA world

S. G. Srivatsan

Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, Kanpur-208016 (UP), India

Abstract: The theory that RNA molecules played a pivotal role in the early evolution of life is now widely accepted. Studies related to this hypothetical “RNA world” include three major areas: the formation of precursors for the first RNA molecules, the polymerization process, and the potential of RNA to catalyze chemical and biochemical reactions. Several chemical and biochemical studies performed under simulated prebiotic conditions support the role of RNA as both genetic as well as catalytic material. However, owing to the lack of credible mechanism for de novo nucleic acid synthesis and the hydrolytic instability of RNA molecules, there has been some serious discussion of whether biopolymers that closely resembled nucleic acid preceded the “RNA world”. In this context, an overview of prebiotic chemistry, the role of mineral surface, and the significance of studies related to RNA-like polymers in the origin of life are presented here.

[full text - pdf 357KB]

* Pure Appl. Chem. 76, 2051-2099 (2004). A collection of invited, peer-reviewed articles by the winners of the 2004 IUPAC Prize for Young Chemists.

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