Coenzymes in Evolution of the RNA World

  • M. S. Kritsky
  • T. A. Telegina
  • T. A. Lyudnikova
  • Yu. L. Zemskova
Part of the Cellular Origin and Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 7)


One of the main problems of the origin of life studies is chemical interpretation of the emergence of organisms capable of both keeping genetic information and catalyzing chemical reactions. The discovery of catalytically active RNAs, ribozymes, has permitted to assume, that early life was based on polyribonucleotides which could have served as their own genes and also performed catalytic functions in the absence of genetically ordered proteins (Gilbert, 1986). Ribozymes isolated from organisms and selected in vitro from random polynucleotides demonstrate an impressive repertoire of catalytic activities, which could give rise to the development of replication and translation mechanisms (Bartel and Unrau, 1999). Some important reactions which protein enzymes do catalyze, in particular, redox processes that maintain energy metabolism in organisms, were not found in ribozymes. We believe that such catalytic inferiority of polynucleotides could be compensated by the attachment of coenzymes, the low molecular weight substances that combine in modern cells with apoproteins to form active enzymes. When energized by light, some coenzymes are efficient catalysts of electrons or chemical groups transfer in absence of apoproteins and thus could play a key role in RNA world metabolism (Kritsky et al., 1998; Kritsky and Telegina, 2004).


Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate Micrococcus Luteus Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate Nucleic Acid Basis Euglena Gracilis 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. S. Kritsky
    • 1
  • T. A. Telegina
    • 1
  • T. A. Lyudnikova
    • 1
  • Yu. L. Zemskova
    • 1
  1. 1.A. N. Bach Institute of BiochemistryRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussian Federation

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