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Issue 30, 2016
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On the lack of evolutionary continuity between prebiotic peptides and extant enzymes

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Abstract

The significance of experiments that claim to simulate the properties of prebiotic small peptides and polypeptides as models of the polymers that may have preceded proteins is critically addressed. As discussed here, most of these experiments are based only on a small number of a larger set of amino acids that may have been present in the prebiotic environment, supported by both experimental simulations and the repertoire of organic compounds reported in carbonaceous chondrites. Model experiments with small peptides may offer some insights into the processes that contributed to generate the chemical environment leading to the emergence of informational oligomers, but not to the origin of proteins. The large body of circumstantial evidence indicating that catalytic RNA played a key role in the origin of protein synthesis during the early stages of cellular evolution implies that the emergence of the genetic code and of protein biosynthesis are no longer synonymous with the origin of life. Hence, reports on the abiotic synthesis of small catalytic peptides under potential prebiotic conditions do not provide information on the origin of triplet encoded protein biosynthesis, but in some cases may serve as models to understand the properties of the earliest proteins.

Graphical abstract: On the lack of evolutionary continuity between prebiotic peptides and extant enzymes

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Publication details

The article was received on 04 Feb 2016, accepted on 19 Apr 2016 and first published on 28 Apr 2016


Article type: Perspective
DOI: 10.1039/C6CP00793G
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2016,18, 20028-20032

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    On the lack of evolutionary continuity between prebiotic peptides and extant enzymes

    L. Raggi, J. L. Bada and A. Lazcano, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2016, 18, 20028
    DOI: 10.1039/C6CP00793G

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