The antiquity of RNA-based evolution

  title={The antiquity of RNA-based evolution},
  author={Gerald F. Joyce},
All life that is known to exist on Earth today and all life for which there is evidence in the geological record seems to be of the same form — one based on DNA genomes and protein enzymes. Yet there are strong reasons to conclude that DNA- and protein-based life was preceded by a simpler life form based primarily on RNA. This earlier era is referred to as the 'RNA world', during which the genetic information resided in the sequence of RNA molecules and the phenotype derived from the catalytic… 
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The key logic behind the RNA World is summarized and some of the most important recent advances that have been made to support and expand this logic are described.
Chemistry and the missing era of evolution.
The "RNA world" idea reduces this paradox, but requires a geochemically implausible supply of RNA monomers, and suggests a pre-RNA era of natural selection is implied.
Relicts and models of the RNA world
Molecular and functional properties of viruses and viroids may be considered as examples or models of the structures and replication mechanisms, which might have been used for the replication of the early biopolymers.
“RNA World”, a highly improbable scenario of the origin and early evolution of life on earth
  • P. Bregestovski
  • Biology
    Journal of Evolutionary Biochemistry and Physiology
  • 2015
The analysis shows that the “RNA World” hypothesis suffers from a number of insurmountable problems of chemical and informational nature and is highly improbable.
The origins of the RNA world.
The problem of the origin of the RNA World is far from being solved, and it is fruitful to consider the alternative possibility that RNA was preceded by some other replicating, evolving molecule, just as DNA and proteins were preceded by RNA.
Closing the circle: replicating RNA with RNA.
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Results obtained in different fields that strengthen the hypothesis of a clay-surface-mediated origin of genetic material are discussed, which has long been proposed that surface chemistry could have played a crucial role in the prebiotic formation of molecules basic to life.
The Old and New RNA World
Recent discoveries of new, unexpected and important functions of RNA molecules support the hypothesis that the authors live in a New RNA World.


The rise and fall of the RNA world.
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RNA evolution and the origins of life
It is doubtful that life began with RNA, but consideration of what came before RNA must take into account relevant information from geochemistry, prebiotic chemistry and nucleic acid biochemistry.
Do Proteins Predate DNA?
New evidence is examined suggesting that RNA-encoded proteins evolved after RNA but before DNA, suggesting that DNA came first but before protein.
The case for an ancestral genetic system involving simple analogues of the nucleotides.
It is proposed that RNA was preceded in the evolution of life by a polymer constructed from flexible, acyclic, probably prochiral nucleotide analogues that were synthesized readily on the primitive earth.
In vitro evolution of a self-alkylatlng ribozyme
RNA enzymes are postulated to have catalysed all chemical reactions in the earliest living cells, and selection for self-biotinylation yields a transfer RNA-like ribozyme that efficiently catalyses carbon–nitrogen bond formation.
Ribozyme-catalysed amino-acid transfer reactions
In vitro selection and evolution is used to isolate ribozymes with acyl transferase activity from a pool of random RNA sequences and one of them transfers an amino acid to itself in a reaction that is analogous to peptidyl transfer on the ribosome.
Modern metabolism as a palimpsest of the RNA world.
An approach is developed for constructing models of ancient organisms using data from metabolic pathways, genetic organization, chemical structure, and enzymatic reaction mechanisms found in
Prebiotic chemistry and nucleic acid replication
The transition from the primitive atmosphere to the simplest replicating molecules is considered in four stages: the formation of a 'prebiotic soup' of organic precursors, including the purine and pyrimidine bases and the pentose sugars.
RNA-catalysed nucleotide synthesis
The finding that RNA can catalyse this type of reaction, which is modelled after pyrimidine synthesis in contemporary metabolism, supports the idea of an RNA world that included nucleotide synthesis and other metabolic pathways mediated by ribozymes.
Nucleic acid enzymes: playing with a fuller deck.
  • G. F. Joyce
  • Biology, Chemistry
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1998
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