Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 264–273

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


  • Alexander V. Vlassov
    • SomaGenics, Inc.
  • Sergei A. Kazakov
    • SomaGenics, Inc.
  • Brian H. Johnston
    • SomaGenics, Inc.
    • Department of PediatricsStanford University School of Medicine
    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyPrinceton, University

DOI: 10.1007/s00239-004-0362-7

Cite this article as:
Vlassov, A.V., Kazakov, S.A., Johnston, B.H. et al. J Mol Evol (2005) 61: 264. doi:10.1007/s00239-004-0362-7


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.


RNA worldMiniribozymesRNA evolutionFreezing catalysis

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005