Paleontological Journal

, Volume 47, Issue 9, pp 1016–1029 | Cite as

The emergence of molecular machines as a prerequisite of the ancient RNA world evolution

  • A. S. SpirinEmail author


The problem of the start of biological evolution in the ancient RNA world is considered. It is postulated that the appearance of catalytic RNAs — ribozymes — via spontaneous cis- and trans-rearrangements of polyribonucleotides in primordial Darwin ponds should not have been sufficient for the start of evolution, until a new class of functional RNA, namely energy-dependent molecular machines, arose. The proposed hypothesis is that the simplest and primary type of molecular machines could be nucleoside triphosphate-dependent RNA-based helicases, which were capable of unwinding the stable double-helical RNAs inevitably formed during RNA syntheses on complementary templates. Thereupon, unwinding RNA polymerases could appear as a result of association or fusion of helicases and polyribonucleotide-polymerizing ribozymes. The latter event provided the mechanism of RNA replication using the double-helical RNAs as a communal genofond (gene pool) of a Darwin pond, and thus initiated the fast evolution of the ancient RNA world.


evolution helicases molecular machines polymerases polyribonucleotides ribozymes RNA word 


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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Protein ResearchRussian Academy of SciencesPushchino, Moscow oblastRussia

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