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Mathematical modeling reveals spontaneous emergence of self-replication in chemical reaction systems
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2640-6490
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics.
2018 (English)In: Journal of Biological Chemistry, ISSN 0021-9258, E-ISSN 1083-351X, Vol. 293, no 49, p. 18854-18863Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Explaining the origin of life requires us to elucidate how self-replication arises. To be specific, how can a self-replicating entity develop spontaneously from a chemical reaction system in which no reaction is self-replicating? Previously proposed mathematical models either supply an explicit framework for a minimal living system or consider only catalyzed reactions, and thus fail to provide a comprehensive theory. Here, we set up a general mathematical model for chemical reaction systems that properly accounts for energetics, kinetics, and the conservation law. We found that 1) some systems are collectively catalytic, a mode whereby reactants are transformed into end products with the assistance of intermediates (as in the citric acid cycle), whereas some others are self-replicating, that is, different parts replicate each other and the system self-replicates as a whole (as in the formose reaction, in which sugar is replicated from form-aldehyde); 2) side reactions do not always inhibit such systems; 3) randomly chosen chemical universes (namely random artificial chemistries) often contain one or more such systems; 4) it is possible to construct a self-replicating system in which the entropy of some parts spontaneously decreases, in a manner similar to that discussed by Schrodinger; and 5) complex self-replicating molecules can emerge spontaneously and relatively easily from simple chemical reaction systems through a sequence of transitions. Together, these results start to explain the origins of prebiotic evolution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2018. Vol. 293, no 49, p. 18854-18863
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-377982DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.003795ISI: 000458467400004PubMedID: 30282809OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-377982DiVA, id: diva2:1293421
Available from: 2019-03-04 Created: 2019-03-04 Last updated: 2019-03-04Bibliographically approved

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Liu, YuSumpter, David J. T.
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