- Press Release
- March 21, 2023
RNA-catalyzed RNA Ligation Within Prebiotically Plausible Model Protocells
Demonstrating RNA catalysis within prebiotically relevant models of primordial cells (protocells) remains a challenge in Origins of life research.
Fatty acid vesicles encapsulating genomic and catalytic RNAs (ribozymes) are attractive models for protocells; however, RNA catalysis has largely been incompatible with fatty acid vesicles due to their instability in the presence of Mg2+ at concentrations required for ribozyme function.
Here, we report a ribozyme that catalyzes template-directed RNA ligation at low Mg2+concentrations and thus remains active within stable vesicles. Ribose and adenine, both prebiotically relevant molecules, were found to greatly reduce Mg2+-induced RNA leakage from vesicles.
When we co-encapsulated the ribozyme, substrate, and template within fatty acid vesicles, we observed efficient RNA-catalyzed RNA ligation upon subsequent addition of Mg2+. Our work shows that RNA-catalyzed RNA assembly can occur efficiently within prebiotically-plausible fatty acid vesicles and represents a step toward the replication of primordial genomes within self-replicating protocells.
Saurja DasGupta[a], Stephanie J. Zhang[a], Merrick P. Smela[b], Jack W.