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RNA‐catalyzed RNA Ligation within Prebiotically Plausible Model Protocells

Von Wiley-VCH zur Verfügung gestellt

Demonstrating RNA catalysis within prebiotically relevant models of primordial cells (protocells) remains a challenge in Origins of life research. Fatty acid vesicles encapsulating genomic and catalytic RNAs (ribozymes) are attractive models for protocells; however, RNA catalysis has largely been incompatible with fatty acid vesicles due to their instability in the presence of Mg2+ at concentrations required for ribozyme function. Here, we report a ribozyme that catalyzes template-directed RNA ligation at low Mg2+ concentrations and thus remains active within stable vesicles. Ribose and adenine, both prebiotically relevant molecules, were found to greatly reduce Mg2+-induced RNA leakage from vesicles. When we co-encapsulated the ribozyme, substrate, and template within fatty acid vesicles, we observed efficient RNA-catalyzed RNA ligation upon subsequent addition of Mg2+. Our work shows that RNA-catalyzed RNA assembly can occur efficiently within prebiotically plausible fatty acid vesicles and represents a step toward the replication of primordial genomes within self-replicating protocells.

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