From Laboratory Equipment
An extremely small RNA molecule created by a Univ. of Colorado at Boulder team can catalyze a key reaction needed to synthesize proteins, the building blocks of life. The findings could be a substantial step toward understanding "the very origin of Earthly life," the lead researcher contends.
The smallest RNA enzyme ever known to perform a cellular chemical reaction is described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper was written by CU graduate student Rebecca Turk, research associate Nataliya Chumachenko and Michael Yarus of the molecular, cellular and developmental biology dept.The finding adds weight to the "RNA World" hypothesis, which proposes that life on Earth evolved from early forms of RNA. "Mike Yarus has been one of the strongest proponents of this idea, and his lab has provided some of the strongest evidence for it over the past two decades," says Blumenthal.
Yarus noted that the RNA World hypothesis was complicated by the fact that RNA molecules are hard to make. "This work shows that RNA enzymes could have been far smaller, and therefore far easier to make under primitive conditions, than anyone has expected."