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A Momentary Flow

Evolving Worldviews

Researchers find a missing component in effort to create primitive, synthetic cells
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators working to create “protocells” – primitive synthetic cells consisting of a nucleic acid strand encased within a membrane-bound compartment – have accomplished an important step towards their goal. In the November 28 issue of Science, the investigators describe a solution to what could have been a critical problem – the potential incompatibility between a chemical requirement of RNA copying and the stability of the protocell membrane. “For the first time, we’ve been able to do nonenzymatic RNA copying inside fatty acid vesicles,” says Jack Szostak, PhD, of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology. “We’ve found a solution to a longstanding problem in the origin of cellular life: RNA copying chemistry requires the presence of the magnesium ion Mg2 , but high Mg2 levels can break down the simple, fatty acid membranes that probably surrounded the first living cells.” (via Researchers find a missing component in effort to create primitive, synthetic cells)

Researchers find a missing component in effort to create primitive, synthetic cells

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators working to create “protocells” – primitive synthetic cells consisting of a nucleic acid strand encased within a membrane-bound compartment – have accomplished an important step towards their goal. In the November 28 issue of Science, the investigators describe a solution to what could have been a critical problem – the potential incompatibility between a chemical requirement of RNA copying and the stability of the protocell membrane. “For the first time, we’ve been able to do nonenzymatic RNA copying inside fatty acid vesicles,” says Jack Szostak, PhD, of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology. “We’ve found a solution to a longstanding problem in the origin of cellular life: RNA copying chemistry requires the presence of the magnesium ion Mg2 , but high Mg2 levels can break down the simple, fatty acid membranes that probably surrounded the first living cells.” (via Researchers find a missing component in effort to create primitive, synthetic cells)

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