Whitehead Study Supports Existence Of Ancient RNA World, Helps Provide Insight Into Early Evolution Of Life

For decades, many researchers thought that ribonucleic acid, or RNA, was nothing more than a molecular interpreter that helps translate DNA codes into proteins. But research over the past 15 years, including studies at the Whitehead Institute, has been lending credence to the notion of a so-called "RNA world," an era in early evolution when all life forms were based on RNA.

This view faced a difficulty, however. For RNA-based life to survive, it must have acquired the ability to synthesize its own building blocks, and until now, scientists had not found an RNA molecule with this key characteristic.

In this week's issue of Nature, Drs. David Bartel and Peter Unrau of the Whitehead Institute report that they have found an RNA molecule capable of making a nucleotide building block, providing some of the strongest evidence yet to support the RNA world view. In contemporary metabolism, protein enzymes catalyze this nucleotide-synthesis reaction, which involves the addition of a nucleotide base to a sugar phosphate. For the RNA world scenario to be feasible, scientists had to show that RNA molecules could catalyze this reaction without the help of protein enzymes.

The Bartel lab finding provides this evidence and supports the theory that in early evolution, RNA molecules carried out functions now considered to be the domains of DNA and proteins: like DNA in modern biology, RNA stored the genetic information to reproduce, and like protein, RNA synthesized the molecules needed to reproduce.

These and other findings will ultimately help evolutionary biologists address questions about how life began on earth more than three billion years ago.

Theories about the origins of life have long intrigued scientists and lay people alike. "A fundamental question about the origin of life is what class of molecules gave rise to some of the earliest life forms" says Dr. Bartel.

For years, scientis

Contact: Seema Kumar
(617) 258-6153
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. Whitehead press seminar 2001: new horizons in the post-genome world
2. Whitehead Institute receives National Science Foundation grant to sequence Neurospora
3. Whitehead press seminar: Beyond the scientific frontier
4. Millennium and the Whitehead Institute identify novel protein important in fat absorption
5. Whitehead Receives $35 Million Grant From National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
6. Whitehead Receives $7 million NIH Grant To Build High-Speed Sequencing Machines
7. Whitehead Study Establishes Role Of DNA Methylation In The Stability Of DNA, Suggests Possible Role Of Undermethylation In Cancer
8. Study: Emission of smog ingredients from trees is increasing rapidly
9. Study explores gene transfer to modify underlying course of Alzheimers disease
10. Study reveals why eyes in some paintings seem to follow viewers
11. Study by Israeli scientists provides insight on DNA code

Post Your Comments:

(Date:5/12/2016)... DALLAS , May 12, 2016 ... has just published the overview results from the Q1 ... of the recent wave was consumers, receptivity to a ... wearables data with a health insurance company. ... choose to share," says Michael LaColla , CEO ...
(Date:5/3/2016)...  Neurotechnology, a provider of high-precision biometric identification ... Identification System (ABIS) , a complete system for ... can process multiple complex biometric transactions with high ... face or iris biometrics. It leverages the core ... MegaMatcher Accelerator , which have been used in ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 First quarter 2016: ... up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% ... 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M ... revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in ... peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new article on ... biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, one of the ... brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which has been manufacturing ... to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such fine stores as ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ... and commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 ... targets such as WDR5 represent an exciting class ... in precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook ... Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their official ... Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic ... with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: