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2001 Annual Science Report

Scripps Research Institute Reporting  |  JUL 2000 – JUN 2001

Self-Reproducing (GL) Molecular Systems and Darwinian Chemistry - Ghadiri's Laboratory

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Self-Reproducing (GL) Molecular Systems and Darwinian Chemistry (dm)

Ghadiri’s laboratory investigates the importance of Molecular Darwinistic processes in the origins of life by exploiting catalytic and self-reproducing (autocatalytic) polypeptide constructs. The goal of our research program is to design, discover, and understand the primary factors responsible for directing self-organization of inanimate molecules into the animate chemistry of living systems. Our approach has been to rationally design and recreate various forms of autocatalytic peptide networks in the laboratory and study how the interplay of molecular information and nonlinear catalysis can lead to self-organization and expression of emergent properties. Our laboratory in the past year have completed studies on: (1) the design of An Exponential Replicator, fulfilling the structural and kinetic requirements for the onset of Darwinian evolution; (2) established the Emergence of a Peptide Replicator in High Salt, highlighting the effects of environmental factors on template-directed catalysis; (3) disclosed the first example of A Chiroselective Peptide Self-Replication, addressing the important issue of origin of homochirality in terrestrial proteins; (4) characterized A Reciprocal Autocatalytic Peptide Network, illustrating how self-reproduction can emerge out of mutually autocatalytic set of chemical reactions; and (5) designed and characterized A Parasitic Peptide Network, demonstrating the emergence of host-parasite relationship among similar molecular species.

    M. Reza Ghadiri
    Project Investigator

    Kathy Soltani
    Research Staff

    Ignacio Alfonso -Rodriguez
    Graduate Student

    Milan Crnogorac
    Graduate Student

    Kevin Guckian
    Graduate Student

    Pillar Lopez-Deber
    Graduate Student

    Alan Saghatelian
    Graduate Student

    Yohei Yokobayashi
    Graduate Student

    Objective 2.0
    Develop and test plausible pathways by which ancient counterparts of membrane systems, proteins and nucleic acids were synthesized from simpler precursors and assembled into protocells.

    Objective 3.0
    Replicating, catalytic systems capable of evolution, and construct laboratory models of metabolism in primitive living systems.

    Objective 9.0
    Determine the presence of life's chemical precursors and potential habitats for life in the outer solar system.