Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 2009, 74, 419-425
A scenario of the origin of the genetic apparatus is described where the surface and physico-chemical properties of lipid bilayers and multilayers of vesicles play a crucial role. Peptides, nucleic acids and lipids are 'collaborating' to bring about a first successful genetic apparatus. Lipidic vesicles acquire new properties through hosting nucleic acids that are transiently but covalently linked to lipophilic peptides. These peptides anchor the associated nucleic acids into the surface of lipidic vesicles. In the interior of such vesicles, within the lipidic bilayer, peptidyl transfers occur that are reminiscent of modern-day ribosomal peptidyl transfer reactions. One can expect that the growing peptides eventually acquire, stepwise and essentially arbitrarily, new functions different from anchoring nucleic acids, such as specific aminoacylation of nucleic acids, template-assisted nucleic acid synthesis, nucleotide deoxygenation and fatty acid synthesis.
Adding to Hans Kuhn's thesis on the emergence of the genetic apparatus : Of the Darwinian advantage to be neither too soluble, nor too insoluble, neither too solid, nor completely liquid.