Exploring the Prebiotic Potential of Hadean Microenvironments: Ribozyme-mediated RNA Synthesis and Replication

The ribozyme-mediated replication and synthesis of RNA in a Hadean model microenvironment

The replication of nucleic acids by enzymes is essential for the evolution and survival of living organisms. Before the advent and replication of proteins, it is likely that genetic information was stored in RNA. But experimental systems that sustain RNA-dependent RNA replication are hard to achieve, due in part to the high thermal stability of duplexes and the low chemical stabilities of catalytic RNAs. We show, using a derivative from a group I ribozyme as a replicase model, that heated air-water surfaces exposed to a CO2-rich environment can enable sense and countersense RNA replication and template-dependent catalysis in a single-pot reaction. Both reactions are triggered by oscillations of salt concentrations and pH resulting from the precipitation acidified dew drops, which temporarily destabilise duplex RNA. Our results suggest an abundant Hadean environment may have favored both replication and synthesis.

(c) 2023. The Author(s).

Statement of Conflict of Interest


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