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Self-replication in a test-tube!

  1. Jan 9, 2009 #1


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    Self-Sustained Replication of an RNA Enzyme

    Tracey A. Lincoln and Gerald F. Joyce

    Departments of Chemistry and Molecular Biology and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


    An RNA enzyme that catalyzes the RNA-templated joining of RNA was converted to a format whereby two enzymes catalyze each other’s synthesis from a total of four oligonucleotide substrates. These cross-replicating RNA enzymes undergo self-sustained exponential amplification in the absence of proteins or other biological materials. Amplification occurs with a doubling time of about one hour, and can be continued indefinitely. Populations of various cross-replicating enzymes were constructed and allowed to compete for a common pool of substrates, during which recombinant replicators arose and grew to dominate the population. These replicating RNA enzymes can serve as an experimental model of a genetic system. Many such model systems could be constructed, allowing different selective outcomes to be related to the underlying properties of the genetic system.

    Citation: T. A. Lincoln and G. F. Joyce, Science, 2009, DOI: 10.1126/science.1167856


    Isn't that exciting?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2009 #2
    RNAs aren't living entities right?
  4. Aug 10, 2009 #3
    if it can replicate and evolve then its living

    and according to the rna world hypothesis there was a time when conditions on earth were such that rna by itself could do just that
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009
  5. Aug 11, 2009 #4


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    That's a very poor (or overy broad, if you prefer) definiton of life. We have software which can do both of those things. Are they life?
  6. Aug 11, 2009 #5
  7. Aug 11, 2009 #6
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