Collaboration between primitive cell membranes and soluble catalysts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

One widely held model of early life suggests primitive cells consisted of simple RNA-based catalysts within lipid compartments. One possible selective advantage conferred by an encapsulated catalyst is stabilization of the compartment, resulting from catalyst-promoted synthesis of key membrane components. Here we show model protocell vesicles containing an encapsulated enzyme that promotes the synthesis of simple fatty acid derivatives become stabilized to Mg 2+, which is required for ribozyme activity and RNA synthesis. Thus, protocells capable of such catalytic transformations would have enjoyed a selective advantage over other protocells in high Mg 2+ environments. The synthetic transformation requires both the catalyst and vesicles that solubilize the water-insoluble precursor lipid. We suggest that similar modified lipids could have played a key role in early life, and that primitive lipid membranes and encapsulated catalysts, such as ribozymes, may have acted in conjunction with each other, enabling otherwise-impossible chemical transformations within primordial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11041
JournalNature communications
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 21 2016

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Artificial Cells
Cell membranes
Catalytic RNA
Cell Membrane
lipids
Lipids
catalysts
Catalysts
RNA
compartments
Membrane Lipids
synthesis
membranes
Fatty Acids
fatty acids
cells
Membranes
Water
Enzymes
enzymes

Cite this

Collaboration between primitive cell membranes and soluble catalysts. / Adamala, Katarzyna P.; Engelhart, Aaron E.; Szostak, Jack W.

In: Nature communications, Vol. 7, 11041, 21.03.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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