Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




EARLY EARTH
Molecules Assemble in Water, Hint at Origins of Life
by Staff Writers
Atlanta CA (SPX) Feb 22, 2013


Nicholas Hud in lab.

The base pairs that hold together two pieces of RNA, the older cousin of DNA, are some of the most important molecular interactions in living cells. Many scientists believe that these base pairs were part of life from the very beginning and that RNA was one of the first polymers of life.

But there is a problem. The RNA bases don't form base pairs in water unless they are connected to a polymer backbone, a trait that has baffled origin-of-life scientists for decades.

If the bases don't pair before they are part of polymers, how would the bases have been selected out from the many molecules in the "prebiotic soup" so that RNA polymers could be formed?

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are exploring an alternate theory for the origin of RNA: they think the RNA bases may have evolved from a pair of molecules distinct from the bases we have today.

This theory looks increasingly attractive, as the Georgia Tech group was able to achieve efficient, highly ordered self-assembly in water with small molecules that are similar to the bases of RNA. These "proto-RNA bases" spontaneously assemble into gene-length linear stacks, suggesting that the genes of life could have gotten started from these or similar molecules. The research is published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The discovery was made by a team of scientists led by Georgia Tech Professor Nicholas Hud, who has been trying for years to find simple molecules that will assemble in water and be capable of forming RNA or its ancestor.

Hud's group knew that they were on to something when they added a small chemical tail to a proto-RNA base and saw it spontaneously form linear assemblies with another proto-RNA base. In some cases, the results produced 18,000 nicely ordered, stacked molecules in one long structure.

"Thinking about the origin of RNA reminds me of the paradox of your grandfather's ax," said Hud, a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "If your father changed the handle and you changed the head, is it the same ax? We see RNA the same way. Its chemical structure might have changed over time, but it was in continual use so we can consider it to be the same molecule."

Hud concedes that scientists may never be 100 percent sure what existed four billion years ago when a complex mixture of chemicals started to work together to start life. His next goal is to determine whether the proto-RNA bases can be linked by a backbone to form a polymer that could have functioned as a genetic material.

Georgia Tech partnered with the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona, Spain on the project. The proto-RNA's two-component, self-assembling system consisted of cyanuric acid (CA) and TAPAS, a derivative of triaminopyrimidine (TAP).

In addition to addressing the origin-of-life questions, Hud suggests the self-assembly process could be used in the future to create new materials, such as nanowires.

JACS study

.


Related Links
Georgia Institute of Technology
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EARLY EARTH
Jurassic records warn of risk to marine life from global warming
Plymouth UK (SPX) Feb 22, 2013
Researchers at Plymouth University, UK, believe that findings from fieldwork along the North Yorkshire coast reveal strong parallels between the Early Jurassic era of 180 million years ago and current climate predictions over the next century. Through geology and palaeontology, they've shown how higher temperatures and lower oxygen levels caused drastic changes to marine communities, and t ... read more


EARLY EARTH
British PM sparks concern with aid budget proposals

Swiss Re posts 61% profit rise in 2012

Four guilty of manslaughter in Italy quake trial

Warning of emergency alert system hacks

EARLY EARTH
DARPA Seeks to Defuse the Threat of Ionizing Radiation

Engineers show feasibility of superfast materials

Sony bills PS4 console as gaming's future

Lessons from nature could lead to the creation of new materials

EARLY EARTH
Research shows pollution doesn't change the rate of droplet formation

Key to cleaner environment may be right beneath our feet

Study of world's richest marine area shows size matters

Indonesia announces shark, manta ray sanctuary

EARLY EARTH
Reduced sea ice disturbs balance of greenhouse gases

Flow of research on ice sheets helps answer climate questions

Extreme winters impact fish negatively

ArcticNet will help improve standard of living in Canada's north

EARLY EARTH
Monsanto to appeal Brazil GM seed ruling

Malawi's bountiful harvests and healthier children

Food science expert: Genetically modified crops are overregulated

US Court tilts toward Monsanto in battle with farmer

EARLY EARTH
Gold gifts mystify tsunami-wracked Japan city

10 dead as Cyclone Haruna lashes Madagascar

Thousands isolated by Australian floodwaters

Flood research shows human habits die hard

EARLY EARTH
Guinea soldiers quit I.Coast village in border dispute

Rising Islamist threat in West Africa

Life expectancy surges in AIDS-hit SAfrican region

ICoast, Guinea vow peaceful resolution to border dispute

EARLY EARTH
Stay cool and live longer?

Zuckerberg, Brin join forces to extend life

Thick hair mutation emerged 30,000 years ago in humans

Tiny mutation had big evolutionary impact




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement