Nonenzymatic template-directed RNA synthesis inside model protocells

Katarzyna Adamala, Jack W. Szostak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

236 Scopus citations


Efforts to recreate a prebiotically plausible protocell, in which RNA replication occurs within a fatty acid vesicle, have been stalled by the destabilizing effect of Mg2+ on fatty acid membranes. Here we report that the presence of citrate protects fatty acid membranes from the disruptive effects of high Mg2+ ion concentrations while allowing RNA copying to proceed, while also protecting single-stranded RNA from Mg2+- catalyzed degradation. This combination of properties has allowed us to demonstrate the chemical copying of RNA templates inside fatty acid vesicles, which in turn allows for an increase in copying efficiency by bathing the vesicles in a continuously refreshed solution of activated nucleotides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1098-1100
Number of pages3
Issue number6162
StatePublished - 2013


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