Although Oparin used coacervate droplets from two or more types of polymer to model the first cell, he hypothesized homacervation from protein, consistent with Pasteur and Darwin. Herrera made two amino acids and numerous cell-like structures (“sulfobes”) in the laboratory, which probably arose from intermediate polymers. Our experiments have conformed with a homoacervation of thermal proteinoid, in which amino acid sequences are determined by the reacting amino acids themselves. All proteinoids that have been tested assemble themselves alone in water to protocells. The protocells have characteristics of life defined by Webster's Dictionary: metabolism, growth, reproduction and response to stimuli in the environment. The protocells are able also to evolve to more modern cells including the initiation of a nucleic acid coding system.
Principal spinoffs from the results are revised evolutionary theory, models for protoneurons and networks thereof, and numerous industrial applications of thermal polyamino acids. Life itself has thus been reaffirmed to be rooted in protein, not in DNA nor RNA, which are however crucial to inheritance in modern life as “instruction manual” (Kornberg).
Recognition of the advances have been considerably delayed by the deeply held assumption that life began by chance from random polymerization of amino acids, in contrast to the experimental findings. The concepts of DNA/RNA-first and protein-first are reconciled by a rise-and-fall progression as often seen in biochemical and biological evolution.
The fact that amino acids order themselves explains in turn that thermal copolyamino acids are finding numerous applications. The entire sequence of processes in the proteinoid origins theory is now seen to be highly deterministic, in close accord with Einstein.
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Fox, S.W., Bahn, P.R., Dose, K. et al. Experimental retracement of the origins of a protocell. J Biol Phys 20, 17–36 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00700418
- Nucleic Acid
- Evolutionary Theory
- Numerous Application
- Biological Evolution
- Code System