Metabolism is a subset of chemistry that allows cells to defy thermodynamic equilibrium, a fundamental process that must have been in place from the very beginning of biology. Before evolution produced efficient catalysts in the form of complex protein machinery, short metal binding peptides might have preceded modern metalloproteins. Such prebiotic, metal-binding motifs have been hypothesized to have existed through analyses of extant protein sequences. However, it is unclear how metal-binding motifs might have evolved in the harsh prebiotic environment. Here, we show how certain environments, in particular seawater-like environments rich in divalent cations and especially Mg2+, support the survival of short peptides upon extreme temperatures as high as 150 °C. Moreover, while Mg2+ does not offer the same protection from UV light, peptides are protected from both heat and irradiation when bound to a metal ion. The results suggest that specific environments rich in metal ions may be better suited for the emergence of complex systems in the path toward life. Additionally, the conditional degradation of peptides depending on their ability of binding metals might have enabled a selection mechanism that would favor the survival of metal-binding motifs which resemble the motifs found in modern proteins. These short sequences could have acted as early, simple catalysts able to facilitate a restricted set of chemical reactions, which would shape the emergence and biology of the Last Universal Common Ancestor.

Emergence, survival, and selection of metal-binding peptides in the prebiotic environment / Rossetto, Daniele. - (2022 Oct 26), pp. 1-183.

Emergence, survival, and selection of metal-binding peptides in the prebiotic environment

Rossetto, Daniele
2022-10-26

Abstract

Metabolism is a subset of chemistry that allows cells to defy thermodynamic equilibrium, a fundamental process that must have been in place from the very beginning of biology. Before evolution produced efficient catalysts in the form of complex protein machinery, short metal binding peptides might have preceded modern metalloproteins. Such prebiotic, metal-binding motifs have been hypothesized to have existed through analyses of extant protein sequences. However, it is unclear how metal-binding motifs might have evolved in the harsh prebiotic environment. Here, we show how certain environments, in particular seawater-like environments rich in divalent cations and especially Mg2+, support the survival of short peptides upon extreme temperatures as high as 150 °C. Moreover, while Mg2+ does not offer the same protection from UV light, peptides are protected from both heat and irradiation when bound to a metal ion. The results suggest that specific environments rich in metal ions may be better suited for the emergence of complex systems in the path toward life. Additionally, the conditional degradation of peptides depending on their ability of binding metals might have enabled a selection mechanism that would favor the survival of metal-binding motifs which resemble the motifs found in modern proteins. These short sequences could have acted as early, simple catalysts able to facilitate a restricted set of chemical reactions, which would shape the emergence and biology of the Last Universal Common Ancestor.
XXXIV
2021-2022
CIBIO (29/10/12-)
Biomolecular Sciences
Mansy, Sheref Samir
no
Inglese
Settore BIO/10 - Biochimica
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Descrizione: Emergence, survival, and selection of metal-binding peptides in the prebiotic environment
Tipologia: Tesi di dottorato (Doctoral Thesis)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11572/355344
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