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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.


Article is based on Elizabeth Satterwhite's undergraduate honor's thesis, Ribozyme/Duplex Binding Interactions as a Thermodynamic Basis for Chemical Game Theory, located online at:

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).



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