Origin & Evolution of Life

The Role Of Minerals In The Early Stage Of The Hadean Earth

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 8, 2023
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The Role Of Minerals In The Early Stage Of The Hadean Earth
Schematic model for a primitive RNA metabolic system on a mineral surface. Short RNA molecules do not bind onto minerals strongly, while functional long RNA molecules bind onto minerals strongly. The functional RNA molecules could form a metabolic chemical network on the mineral. This can be regarded as an integrated RNA system prior to a cell-type compartmentation of RNA molecules. — Life

In particular, the interaction between functional ribozymes and ancient minerals under simulated primitive conditions is a recent research focus.

We are currently attempting to design a primitive RNA metabolic network which would function with minerals, and believe that the simulated chemical network of RNA molecules would be useful for evaluation of the chemical evolution from a simple RNA mixture to an RNA-based life-like system.

First, we measured the binding interactions of oligonucleotides with four types of minerals; Aerosil silica, zirconium silicate, sepiolite, and montmorillonite. Oligonucleotides bound zirconium silicate and montmorillonite in the presence of MgCl2, and bound sepiolite both in the presence and absence of MgCl2, but they did not bind Aerosil.

Based on the binding behavior, we attempted the self-cleavage reaction of the hammerhead ribozyme from an avocado viroid. This reaction was strongly inhibited by zirconium silicate, a compound regarded as mineral evidence for the existence of water.

The present study suggests that the chemical evolution of functional RNA molecules requires specific conformational binding, resulting in efficient ribozyme function as well as zirconium silicate for the chemical evolution of biomolecules.

Kunio Kawamura, Jean-François Lambert, Louis M. P. Ter-Ovanessian,Jacques Vergne,Guy Hervé, and Marie-Christine Maurel

Life on Minerals: Binding Behaviors of Oligonucleotides on Zirconium Silicate and Its Inhibitory Activity for the Self-Cleavage of Hammerhead Ribozyme, Life (open access)

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