Scientists tinkering with a chemical now vital to life think they've recreated one of the central molecules that first gave rise to the chemistry of life.
Hiroaki Suga of the State University of New York at Buffalo and his coworkers from Buffalo and the University of Tokyo altered a type of RNA, or ribonucleic acid, the chemical that orchestrates protein making. The researchers found that their modified RNA could by itself perform functions that normally require the help of proteins. Their work, which appears in the April 2 EMBO Journal, supports the hypothesis of a prebiological "RNA world," in which RNA molecules assembled and copied themselves, acting almost as independent living things.
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