, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 264-273
Date: 13 Jul 2005

The RNA World on Ice: A New Scenario for the Emergence of RNA Information

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Abstract

The RNA world hypothesis refers to a hypothetical era prior to coded peptide synthesis, where RNA was the major structural, genetic, and catalytic agent. Though it is a widely accepted scenario, a number of vexing difficulties remain. In this review we focus on a missing link of the RNA world hypothesis—primitive miniribozymes, in particular ligases, and discuss the role of these molecules in the evolution of RNA size and complexity. We argue that prebiotic conditions associated with freezing, rather than “warm and wet” conditions, could have been of key importance in the early RNA world.

[Reviewing Editor: Dr. Niles Lehman]