We acknowledge funding from NASA Exobiology grant NNX14-AK21G.
Life -- Origin -- Research, Chemical kinetics, RNA, Nucleotides -- Synthesis, Molecular dynamics
Origins-of-life research requires searching for a plausible transition from simple chemicals to larger macromolecules that can both hold information and catalyze their own production. We have previously shown that some group I intron ribozymes possess the ability to help synthesize other ribozyme genotypes by recombination reactions in small networks in an autocatalytic fashion. By simplifying these recombination reactions, using fluorescent anisotropy, we quantified the thermodynamic binding strength between two nucleotides of two group I intron RNA fragments for all 16 possible genotype combinations. We provide evidence that the binding strength (KD) between the 3-nucleotide internal guide sequence (IGS) of one ribozyme and its complement in another is correlated to the catalytic ability of the ribozyme. This work demonstrates that one can begin to deconstruct the thermodynamic basis of information in prebiotic RNA systems.
Satterwhite, L.E.; Yeates, J.A.M.; Lehman, N. (2016). Group I Intron Internal Guide Sequence Binding Strength as a Component of Ribozyme Network Formation. Molecules, 21, 1293.