Elements Covers

On the Emergence of a Proto-Metabolism and the Assembly of Early Protocells

Protocells are envisaged as encapsulated networks of catalytic polymers, such as RNAs, which are thought to have existed on the prebiotic Earth as precursors to contemporary biological cells. Such protocells were not “alive” in the way this word would apply to a contemporary unicellular organism. Rather, protocells represent a necessary evolutionary step toward those first forms of cellular life. In this review, we explore how chemicals synthesized by minerals or delivered by meteorites could have contributed to the emergence of the first protocells and could have supported these protocell’s evolution towards primitive cellular life.

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