Hypercycles and the origin of life

  title={Hypercycles and the origin of life},
  author={John Maynard Smith},
Perhaps the most difficult step to explain in the origin of life is that from the replication of molecules (RNA for example) in the absence of specific proteins, to the appearance of polymerases and other proteins involved in the replication of RNA and themselves coded for by that RNA. Suppose we start with a population of replicating RNA molecules. Without specific enzymes the accuracy of replication is low and hence the length of RNA which could be precisely replicated small. Before… 

Real ribozymes suggest a relaxed error threshold

It is shown, on the basis of comparative analysis of two extensively mutagenized ribozymes, that with a copying fidelity of 0.999 per digit per replication the phenotypic error threshold rises well above 7,000 nucleotides, which permits the selective maintenance of a functionally rich riboorganism with a genome of more than 100 different genes, the size of a tRNA.

From replicators to reproducers: the first major transitions leading to life.

Griesemer's concept of a reproducer is outlined, which brings out the essential role of development in evolution, and it is suggested that this binding originated, not as a step in protein synthesis, but in the formation of coenzymes in a metabolically complex RNA world.

Sustainable replication and coevolution of cooperative RNAs in an artificial cell-like system

It is demonstrated that the cooperative relationship of the two RNAs could be sustained at a certain range of RNA concentrations, even when parasitic RNA appeared in the system, and that more efficient cooperative RNA replication evolved during long-term replication through seemingly selfish evolution of each RNA.

The dynamics of the RNA world: insights and challenges

The theory of the origin, maintenance, and enhancement of the RNA world as an evolving population of dynamical systems is reviewed.

Simulating the origins of life: The dual role of RNA replicases as an obstacle to evolution

This paper confirms that the coexistence of parasite RNAs and replicases is possible in a spatially extended system, and shows that the presence of trade-off that takes into the account an RNA folding process could still pose a serious obstacle to the evolution of replication.

The origin of replicators and reproducers

  • E. Szathmáry
  • Biology
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2006
The stochastic corrector model shows how a bag of genes can survive, and what the role of chromosome formation and intragenic recombination could be, in an infrabiological system built of two coupled autocatalytic systems.

On the Origin of DNA Genomes: Evolution of the Division of Labor between Template and Catalyst in Model Replicator Systems

This study investigates the evolution of DNA-like molecules, i.e. molecules that can function only as template, in minimal computational models of RNA replicator systems and suggests that the lack of catalytic activity in DNA by itself can generate a sufficient selective advantage for RNA replicators systems to produce DNA.