Researchers may have reconstructed protein sequences similar to our ancestors, revealing the secrets of life on Earth.
Proteins make up the heart and soul of the genetic material in our cells. They act both as trains and conductors, deciding how everything in the cell works when it does. For this reason, scientists always presume that proteins are ahead of cells, and therefore before the analogy of life as we know it.
However, the protein itself is made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, and modern proteins are chain-like structures of 20 different variants. But here’s the problem. Amino acids are expected to make proteins, but they themselves are produced by other protein enzymes. A new study called the Origin of life creates a chicken and egg scenario that researchers hope to eventually solve: Which came first?
In a 1952 experiment, light-emitting diode scientists believe that the first protein materialized from a short protein segment called a peptide. It is an assembly of proteins naturally created in the primitive soup. Thus, for nearly 70 years, the consensus was the amino acids that formed eggs in the chicken and egg scenario.
However, the work of Professor Dantaufik of the Weissmann Institute of Science and Professor Norman Metanis of Jerusalem Hebrew University highlights our understanding gap that does not explain how these proteins were linked to life.
As Professor Taufik explained, one important type of amino acid has been lost from that experiment and all subsequent experiments. Amino acids with a positive charge, such as arginine and lysine. It is these proteins that are important to our modern proteins because they interact with DNA and RNA that have a net negative charge.
RNA is the putative original molecule, which carries both information and is capable of self-replication. Still, because it is negatively charged, Boffin believes it needs a positively charged amino acid and can take the next step to the life of the cell. In a 1952 experiment, only one positively charged amino acid, called ornithine, appeared. However, this amino acid, a precursor of positively charged arginine, was never used to make proteins.
Which one caused the problem? What was it for? Researchers have begun to theorize whether ornithine has always been the missing link, and conducted experiments to test their hypothesis. The experiment began with the production of positively charged, rudimentary proteins that would have resembled our ancestors. Next, they created synthetic proteins, which ornithine replaced as positive charge carriers.
Scientists have created conditions similar to those found on the protoearth, and have seen ornithine converting to the protein-forming arginine. Increasingly, these more primitive proteins resembled modern ones and began to bind in a way that became stronger and more selective as they improved.
During the experiment, Boffin discovered that, in the presence of RNA, the primitive peptide could split and participate in self-organization and division. Characterized by the presence of more complex cells.
Such protocells theoretically evolve into true living cells over time. This is the case, and we may finally understand the secret of life on earth.
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