Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 63, Issue 11, pp 1278–1293 | Cite as

Re-creating an RNA world

  • U. F. MüllerEmail author


The RNA world hypothesis states that life originated via a system based on RNA genomes and RNA catalysts. Researchers have been trying to develop such a system since catalytic RNAs (ribozymes) were discovered in 1982. This review summarizes the recent progress made in that endeavor and outlines the obstacles that remain to be overcome. After giving a short background on prebiotic chemistry and in vitro evolution, the discussion focuses on the generation of three important components of an RNA world: a sufficient polymerase ribozyme, self-replicating membrane compartments and ribozymes that are capable of performing basic metabolic processes.


Ribozymes catalytic RNA RNA world self-replication synthetic life artificial life origin of life 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Whitehead InstituteCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA

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