When DNA and RNA Worlds Collide

June 10, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 3-4 minutes

Today, Lab.Equipment has curated a new Biotechnology article published from GEN just for you:

If you though that the RNA World hypothesis had comfortably eclipsed the DNA World hypothesis, think again. As far as molecular biologists at the MRC Laboratory are concerned, the two hypotheses are in the same orbit—and due to collide. Although the impending clash of ideas may sound catastrophic, it could yield a coherent whole, a mixed RNA–DNA world.

“The RNA world hypothesis suggests that life began with RNA, before a genetic takeover occurred involving primitive biosynthetic machinery and natural selection to result in DNA,” said the MRC Laboratory’s John Sutherland, the senior author of a new study that proposes a new cosmology for Earth’s prebiotic chemicals. “Our work suggests that in conditions consistent with shallow primordial ponds and rivulets, there was a mixed genetic system with RNA and DNA building blocks co-existing at the dawn of life. This fulfills what many people think is a key precondition for the spontaneous emergence of life on Earth.”

The new study, entitled “Selective prebiotic formation of RNA pyrimidine and DNA purine nucleosides,” appeared June 3 in Nature. It presents the researchers’ idea of a plausible scenario for the primordial Earth’s geochemistry. It also describes how the researchers tested their scenario in the laboratory. To simulate the conditions of a rocky Earth covered with shallow ponds, the researchers dissolved chemicals that form RNA in water, then dried them out and heated them, then they simulated the early sun’s rays by exposing them to ultraviolet radiation.

In this recreation of early Earth geochemistry, intermediates in the synthesis of two of the building blocks of RNA were simultaneously also converted into two of the building blocks of DNA.

“Here we demonstrate a high-yielding, completely stereo-, regio- and furanosyl-selective prebiotic synthesis of the purine d... More of this in the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) Blog.

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