The Mixture Between RNA and DNA Likely Gave Birth to The First Forms of Life on Earth

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While astronomers are studying other planets’ potential to harbor any life forms, there’s a lot more to learn about living organisms even here on Earth. Perhaps science will never be able to fully explain how life managed to evolve into the tremendous variety that we can all witness every day, but they can find out more about the emergence of life in its primitive state.

Phys.org writes about a new discovery of chemists from Scripps Research that supports a new view for how the first forms of life appeared on Earth.

Diamidophosphate enters the scene

The researchers proved that the simple compound known as diamidophosphate (DAP) could have chemically knitted together tiny DNA building blocks into primordial DNA strands. The discovery points to the possibility that DNA and RNA emerged together after similar chemical reactions triggered them both. Furthermore, it means that the first self-replicating molecules were mixes of the two.

Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, who’s the senior study author, Ph.D., and associate professor of chemistry at Scripps Research, declared:

This finding is an important step toward the development of a detailed chemical model of how the first life forms originated on Earth.

First author Eddy Jiménez, a Ph.D. and postdoctoral research associate in the Krishnamurthy lab, stated:

We found, to our surprise, that using DAP to react with deoxynucleosides works better when the deoxynucleosides are not all the same but are instead mixes of different DNA ‘letters’ such as A and T, or G and C, like real DNA.

Another official statement says it all:

Now that we understand better how a primordial chemistry could have made the first RNAs and DNAs, we can start using it on mixes of ribonucleoside and deoxynucleoside building blocks to see what chimeric molecules are formed—and whether they can self-replicate and evolve.

The study was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.