China Posted March 15 Share Posted March 15 Nickelback could have kickstarted life on Earth, says new study One of the most profound mysteries facing science is how exactly life arose from non-living matter. Now, scientists have pinpointed a particular peptide that potentially kickstarted life – and it could all be nickelback’s fault. It seems that the first living organisms appeared fairly soon after the Earth itself was born – but how? At some point non-living material must have begun performing biological functions, and finding out how that happened would be one of the most important breakthroughs in scientific history. In recent years, scientists have been conducting experiments with artificial evolution and cooking up primordial soups to explore the kinds of chemical reactions that might have occurred on early Earth, in order to start stacking the building blocks of life. And in a new study, researchers at Rutgers University and the City College of New York worked backwards from current biology to find a possible starting point. “Scientists believe that sometime between 3.5 and 3.8 billion years ago there was a tipping point, something that kickstarted the change from prebiotic chemistry – molecules before life – to living, biological systems,” said Vikas Nanda, corresponding author of the study. “We believe the change was sparked by a few small precursor proteins that performed key steps in an ancient metabolic reaction. And we think we’ve found one of these ‘pioneer peptides.’” According to the researchers’ reasoning, any potential progenitor chemical would have to be active enough to drive biochemical processes, but remain simple enough to assemble spontaneously in the primordial soup. So to find the right candidate, the team pared down modern metabolic proteins to their most basic structure. After much experimentation, one particularly promising candidate emerged – a peptide made up of just 13 amino acids, which binds two nickel ions to its backbone. As such, the scientists gave the molecule the nickname “nickelback.” Click on the link for the full article 2 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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