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2002 Annual Science Report

Scripps Research Institute Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Ghadiri - Self-Reproducing Molecular Systems and Darwinian Chemistry

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

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. In the past year we have (1) studied Reciprocal Autocatalytic Peptide Networks, illustrating how self-reproduction can emerge from a mutually autocatalytic set of chemical reactions; (2) designed and characterized A Parasitic Peptide Network, demonstrating the emergence of the host-parasite relationship among similar molecular species; and (3) continued studies on Chiroselective Peptide Self-Replication to further address the issue of origin of homochirality in terrestrial proteins; (4) designed and characterized nucleic-acid dependant peptide ligation; and (5) established the theoretical modeling and framework as well as the experimental setup and analyses of Molecular Ecosystems and Networks arising from the dynamic interactions and self-organization of multiple catalytic and autocatalytic peptide systems.

    M. Reza Ghadiri
    Project Investigator

    Ignacio Alfonso -Rodriguez
    Doctoral Student

    Gonen Ashkensay
    Doctoral Student

    Kevin Guckian
    Doctoral Student

    Reshma Jagasia
    Doctoral Student

    Pillar Lopez-Deber
    Doctoral Student

    Alan Saghatelian
    Doctoral 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.

    Objective 14.0
    Determine the resilience of local and global ecosystems through their response to natural and human-induced disturbances.