So how actually life started on Earth? Researchers from the Rutgers have recently found the first evidence that a very simple protein catalyst which is essential for cells and is building block life might exist when the life started to began.
In the Journal of the American Chemical Society, their study of the primordial peptide is published.
Gunter Wachtershauser a chemist postulated somewhere in the late 1980s and early 1990s that life started on iron and sulfur-containing rocks present in the ocean. Along with Wachtershauser others have also predicted that short peptide may have bound metals and also serve as the catalysts of life producing chemistry.
In the DNA of human, it consists of genes that code for proteins which are some hundreds to thousands of amino acids long. Such type of complex proteins are much needed for making the living things functions properly and are actually the result of the evolution of many years.
When life started proteins were not very complex they were simple and were about 10 to 20 amino acids long. By making use of the computer modeling, scientists from Rutgers have been studying and exploring more about peptides, how they look like in early times.
The scientists made use of computers for modeling a short 12 amino acid protein and performed a test on it in the laboratory. There are many important as well as impressive features which this peptide is having. The peptide consists of two types of amino acids only and not 20 amino acids which synthesize millions of the different proteins which are required for the different body functions. It is very short and under the right conditions, it could have emerged spontaneously on the Earth in the early times.
At the core of this peptide, there is a metal cluster which looks like the structure and chemistry of the iron-sulfur mineral which was found in abundance in the Earth oceans in early times. According to Nanda who is a resident faculty member at the Center for Advanced Technology and Medicine mentioned that Peptides can charge as well as discharge electrons repeatedly without actually falling apart.
Professor Paul G. Falkowski who is senior author and leads Rutgers’ Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Laboratory mentioned that “Modern proteins which are known as ferredoxins perform this shuttling of electrons around the cell in order to facilitate the metabolism.” A primordial peptide which is like the one which we studied may have served as similar functions at the time of origin of life.