The origin of the genetic code and translation is a “notoriously difficult problem”. In this survey we present a list of questions that a full theory of the genetic code needs to answer. We assess the leading hypotheses according to these criteria. The stereochemical, the coding coenzyme handle, the coevolution, the four-column theory, the error minimization and the frozen accident hypotheses are discussed. The integration of these hypotheses can account for the origin of the genetic code. But experiments are badly needed. Thus we suggest a host of experiments that could (in)validate some of the models. We focus especially on the coding coenzyme handle hypothesis (CCH). The CCH suggests that amino acids attached to RNA handles enhanced catalytic activities of ribozymes. Alternatively, amino acids without handles or with a handle consisting of a single adenine, like in contemporary coenzymes could have been employed. All three scenarios can be tested in in vitro compartmentalized systems.
Kun Á, Á Radványi: The evolution of the genetic ... (2017)
Kun Á, Á Radványi
The evolution of the genetic code: Impasses and challenges
Biosystems (in press)
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