At Dawn of Life, heat may direct cell division

At Dawn of Life heat may direct cell division

Elegant ballet of proteins enabling modern cells to reproduce themselves. During cell division, structural proteins and enzymes coordinate DNA duplication, cell cytoplasmic content division, and cell-cleansing membrane cinching. Obtaining these processes is crucial because it can cause abnormal or immobile stem cell errors.

Billions of years ago, the same challenge must be faced by the first self-organizing membranous packages of chemicals spontaneously rising from illegal substances. But these protocells almost certainly had to be reproduced without the need for large proteins. How they did it is a key question for astrobiologists and biochemists studying the origin of life.

“If you wipe out every enzyme in the cell, nothing will happen. They're just inert bags, ”said Anna Wang, an astrobiologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. "They're very stable, and that's the kind of point."

However, in a recent paper in Iris Biophysical, Romain Attal, a physicist at the French City of Science and Industry, and cancer biologist Laurent Schwartz at Paris Public Hospitals developed a series of mathematical equations that model how heat alone can be has been sufficient to control one important part of the reproduction process: uniform one protocell to two.

Attal believes that the chemical and physical processes that were active in early life may have been fairly simple, so that thermodynamics alone may have played an important role in how life began. He said that the kinds of basic equations on which he is working could explain some of the rules that governed how life first appeared.

“Temperature gradients are important to your life,” Attal said. “If you understand a subject, you need to be able to write down its principles. ”

Flipping for Fission

In order for primary cells to separate themselves in the absence of complex protein complexes, the process would require a physical or chemical driver. "It's really about bringing a cell down to its basic functions and thinking, 'What are the basic physical and chemical principles, and how can we do that without proteins?' ”Wang said.

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Describing these processes becomes even more challenging when you consider that scientists still cannot agree on the definition of life in general, and protocells in particular.

What scientists agree with is that protocells need to have some kind of hereditary information that they can pass on to daughter cells, metabolism that has undergone chemical reactions, and a lipid membrane separating the metabolism and random hereditary information in the rest of the Earth's land. brot primordial. Although the outer chemical world was randomly ingested, the separation provided by the lipid membrane may result in an area of ​​lower entropy.

For the protocell to grow before dividing, it had to increase not only the volume inside the cell but also the surface area of ​​the surrounding organs. To create two smaller daughter cells with the same total size as the parent cell would require additional lipids for their organs, as their surface area would be larger compared to their volume. The chemical reactions required to fuel the synthesis of these lipids would provide energy in the form of heat.

As Attal considered these ideas with Schwartz, he began to question whether this energy was sufficient to direct early cell division. A study of the research literature revealed a study that found that the cell around the mitochondria (the energy center of the cell, which originated as a symbiotic bacterium billions of years ago) has a slightly higher temperature. Attal wanted to see if that energy difference could be created in protocells, and whether it was appropriate for uniform control.

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