Prebiotic factors influencing the activity of a ligase ribozyme

Fabrizio Anella, Christophe Danelon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


An RNA-lipid origin of life scenario provides a plausible route for compartmentalized replication of an informational polymer and subsequent division of the container. However, a full narrative to form such RNA protocells implies that catalytic RNA molecules, called ribozymes, can operate in the presence of self-assembled vesicles composed of prebiotically relevant constituents, such as fatty acids. Hereby, we subjected a newly engineered truncated variant of the L1 ligase ribozyme, named tL1, to various environmental conditions that may have prevailed on the early Earth with the objective to find a set of control parameters enabling both tL1-catalyzed ligation and formation of stable myristoleic acid (MA) vesicles. The separate and concurrent effects of temperature, concentrations of Mg2++, MA, polyethylene glycol and various solutes were investigated. The most favorable condition tested consists of 100 mM NaCl, 1 mM Mg2+, 5 mM MA, and 4 °C temperature, whereas the addition of Mg2++-chelating solutes, such as citrate, tRNAs, aspartic acid, and nucleoside triphosphates severely inhibits the reaction. These results further solidify the RNA-lipid world hypothesis and stress the importance of using a systems chemistry approach whereby a wide range of prebiotic factors interfacing with ribozymes are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Catalytic RNA
  • Fatty acid
  • Lipid vesicle
  • Origins of life
  • Protocell


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