What is it about?
We aim to find mechanisms that leave traces in product strands after short random sequence strands are ligated. This might provide a simultaneous selection and elongation mechanism that was relevant in the Origin of Life. Indeed, longer strands have paticular characteristics: they predominantly feature a base-composition that inhibits hairpin formation. They also show abundant ligation-site sequence patterns that are caused by a slightly biased initial sequence pool.
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Why is it important?
According to the famous RNA-world hypothesis long, self-folding RNA will emerge, that can catalyze reactions like RNA-ligation or even its own reproduction. However, those strands are long and have a very specific sequence. It is very unlikely that those structures emerged simply by chance and thus, a pre-selection mechanism was necessary. Our results show, that a selection pressure like templated ligation creates long, well hybridized double stranded oligomers, even when starting from a set of random sequences. This mechanism and the resulting strands are suitable precursors for downstream evolution processes like the emergence of first ribozyme sequences.
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This page is a summary of: Structured sequences emerge from random pool when replicated by templated ligation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2018830118.
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