Life is a process that originated 3.5 billion years ago. It arose when the basic components of cells that we know today, that is, inanimate chemical molecules, were joining, mixing, assembling and interacting. At one point they came to life, or what is the same, they became autonomous systems. Over the years they evolved, until they reached the current complexity and diversity. An investigation by the UPV / EHU works at the beginning of this journey, studying how the assembly of chemical molecules happened in order to give rise to life. DNA, RNA, proteins, membranes, sugars … cells are made up of a variety of components. In biology, and specifically in studies on the origin of life, it is very common to focus on one of these molecules, and to hypothesize about how life originated by analyzing the specific mechanisms related to it.
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“These studies basically seek” the molecule of life “, that is, to establish which was the most important molecule for this milestone to be possible, says Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo, researcher Ghana Email List at the Biophysics Unit and the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the UPV / EHU However, taking into account that “life is a game between a great variety of molecules and components, In addition to being in favor of this new approach, the Ruiz-Mirazo group, in collaboration with the University of Montpellier, through the stay of the UPV / EHU doctoral student Sara Murillo-Sánchez, has been able to demonstrate that there is interaction between some molecules and others. “Our group is an expert in the investigation of membranes that were created in prebiotic environments, that is, in the study of the dynamics that fatty acids, the precursors of today’s lipids, may have had.
The Montpellier group, for its On the other hand, it is specialized in the synthesis of the first peptides. Thus, when we put together the knowledge of one and the other, and when experimentally we mixed the fatty acids and the amino acids, we could see that there is a strong synergy between both “. As they could see, the catalysis of the reaction occurred when the fatty acids formed compartments. Being in an aqueous medium, and due to the hydrophobic nature of lipids, they tend to bind together and form closed compartments; that is, they take on the function of a membrane; “At that time, obviously, the membranes were not biological, but chemical”, clarifies Ruiz-Mirazo. In their experiments they were able to see that the conditions offered by these membranes are favorable for amino acids: “The Montpellier group had very well characterized the prebiotic