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Durham University

Department of Mathematical Sciences

Staff

Publication details for Bernard Piette

Banwell, Eleanor F., Piette, Bernard M. A. G., Taormina, Anne & Heddle, Jonathan G. (2018). Reciprocal Nucleopeptides as the Ancestral Darwinian Self-Replicator. Molecular Biology and Evolution 35(2): 404-416.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Even the simplest organisms are too complex to have spontaneously arisen fully-formed, yet precursors to first life must have emerged ab initio from their environment. A watershed event was the appearance of the first entity capable of evolution: the Initial Darwinian Ancestor. Here we suggest that nucleopeptide reciprocal replicators could have carried out this important role and contend that this is the simplest way to explain extant replication systems in a mathematically consistent way. We propose short nucleic- acid templates on which amino-acylated adapters assembled. Spatial localization drives peptide ligation from activated precursors to generate phosphodiester-bond-catalytic peptides. Comprising autocatalytic protein and nucleic acid sequences, this dynamical system links and unifies several previous hypotheses and provides a plausible model for the emergence of DNA and the operational code.