Coenzymes as fossils of an earlier metabolic state

  title={Coenzymes as fossils of an earlier metabolic state},
  author={Harold B. White},
  journal={Journal of Molecular Evolution},
  • H. White
  • Published 29 March 1976
  • Biology
  • Journal of Molecular Evolution
SummaryA metabolic system composed of nucleic acid enzymes is proposed to have existed prior to the evolution of ribosomal protein synthesis. Vestiges of these nucleic acid enzymes persist in contemporary coenzymes. This proposal rationalizes the fact that many coenzymes are nucleotides or heterocyclic bases which could be derived from nucleotides. 

Evolutionary roots of catalysis by nicotinamide and flavins in C-H oxidoreductases and in photosynthesis

Information for tracing evolution even further could stem from the analysis of coenzyme mechanisms, as placing cofactors in their proper evolutionary context gives new hints concerning their actual mechanisms of catalysis.

Evolution of enzymes and pathways for the biosynthesis of cofactors.

The evolution of metabolic pathways is discussed with reference to the biosynthesis of a number of vitamins and cofactors. Retrograde and patchwork models are highlighted and their relevance to our

Planetary change and biochemical adaptation: molecular evolution of corrinoid and heme biosyntheses

Biochemical evolution preceding the synthesis of the heme group and related molecules is discussed within the framework of geological evolution in which the appearance and accumulation of an oxygen-rich atmosphere stands as one of the major events in the evolution of the planet and the biosphere.

Changing the Cofactor Diet of an Enzyme

In their Perspective, Ellington and Bull discuss how a five-amino acid change in the enzyme switches the cofactor to NADP, with normal activity in vitro, explaining the conservation of cofactor specificities in natural enzymes.

Prebiotic chemistry: Ribozyme takes its vitamins.

Selection of an RNA catalyst that can use the vitamin thiamin to catalyse a key metabolic decarboxylation reaction has broad implications for understanding the role of RNA in the early stages of

A Direct Prebiotic Synthesis of Nicotinamide Nucleotide.

A prebiotic synthesis of phosphorylated nicotinamide ribose under conditions that also conveniently lead to the adenosine phosphate components of this and other RNA cofactors is reported.

Nicotinamide Coenzyme Synthesis: A Case of Ribonucleotide Emergence or a Byproduct of the RNA World?

The NAD(P) biosynthetic pathway will be described with views on its origin and its peculiar biochemical features will be discussed with the aim to offer novel arguments to the debate on the sequence of chemical evolution in the origin of life.

Synthesis of the coenzymes, ADPG, GDPG and CDP-ethanolamine under primitive earth conditions

  • A. MarJ. Oró
  • Chemistry, Biology
    Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere
  • 2006
These compounds were synthesized by reacting simple precursor molecules under aqueous solutions, at moderate temperatures and short periods of time, using urea and cyanamide as condensing agents.

Origin of genetically encoded protein synthesis: A model based on selection for RNA peptidation

  • J. Wong
  • Biology, Chemistry
    Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere
  • 2005
A recognition of the functional advantages derivable from the post-transcriptional addition of peptide cofactors to RNA apo-catalysts enables the formulation of a theory for the origin of the genetic encoding of protein synthesis by RNA.

A possible origin of RNA catalysis in multienzyme complexes

  • M. R. Edwards
  • Biology
    Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere
  • 2005
A model is proposed in which coenzyme-dependent RNA enzymes were initially organized in multienzyme complexes featuring the continuous attachment of substrates to CoA-like carriers, as in fatty acid synthesis; and the ordering of RNA enzymes via mRNA-like instructional strands.



Chemical and biological evolution of a nucleotide-binding protein

Three-dimensional alignment of the common nucleotide binding structure in dehydrogenases, kinases and flavodoxins permits the recognition of homologous amino acids when sequence comparisons alone

The evolution of dehydrogenases and kinases.

The Evolution of Dehydrogenases and Kinase: Critical Reviews in Biochemistry: Vol.

[Catalytic role for RNA in DNA replication].

It seems likely that the machinery of DNA replication may have many features in common with the polynucleotide components of protein synthesis, and it seems unlikely that tRNA and rRNA arose by chance in a single evolutionary step, more probably they have evolved from the replicative machinery for polyn nucleotides.

β structures of alternating polypeptides and their possible prebiotic significance

A survey of the commonest amino acids formed in prebiotic conditions suggests that the earliest form of genetic coding may have specified polypeptides with a strong tendency to form stable β-sheet

A proposed model for interaction of polypeptides with RNA.

  • C. CarterJ. Kraut
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1974
A model containing only standard bond lengths, bond angles, and dihedral angles is constructed in which a polypeptide double helix fits precisely into the minor groove of an RNA double helIX with identical helix parameters, and it is proposed that it played a fundamental role in the initiation of precellular evolution.


  • R. E. Eakin
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1963
* This investigation was aided by grants in aid from the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Science Foundation. t Postdoctoral Fellow, U.S. Public Health Service. 'Doi, R. H., and S.

Selforganization of matter and the evolution of biological macromolecules

The causes and effect of cause and effect, and the prerequisites of Selforganization, are explained in more detail in the I.IA.

Making Conferences Successful

Many features of the four-yearly Commonwealth Survey Officers' Conference contribute to its success and could be adopted with advantage by others.

On earlier states of the biochemical system.

  • M. Yčas
  • Biology
    Journal of theoretical biology
  • 1974

Self-organization of molecular systems and evolution of the genetic apparatus.

  • H. Kuhn
  • Biology
    Angewandte Chemie
  • 1972