The DNA translational system receives messages from DNA delivered to it by RNA and translates the messages into proteins. The system centers on a cellular machine called the ribosome, which is made of multiple large molecules of RNA and protein and is ubiquitous in life as we know it.
In today’s ribosome, and in the whole translational system, there are magnesium ions. The researchers wanted to know if the translational system first evolved to function with those other metals as their linchpins. So, Bray, a graduate research assistant in Williams’s and in Glass’s lab, swapped out the magnesium ions for them, tabula rasa. Bray’s experiment replaced them all with iron ions and manganese ions, which were overabundant on primordial Earth. Williams and Jennifer Glass, the principal investigators in the study, also had their doubts this was doable.
Amazingly, it was.
“It’s totally unbelievable this would work because biology makes very specific use of things. Change one atom and it can wreck a whole protein,” Williams said. “When we probed the structure, we saw that all three metals do essentially the same thing to the structure”. When they tested the performance of the translational system with iron replacing magnesium, it was 50 to 80 percent as efficient as normal (with magnesium). “Manganese worked even better than iron,” Bray said. (1)
Funny isn’t it?
Only to see they stay the same.
To give birth to us.
Upon a calm lake.
Didn’t it ever occur to you?
The only way to see your reflection on the water.
Is to stop swimming in it…
The only way to stop drinking water.
Is to start doing so…
State the obvious.
And it will start questioning itself.
Yes, life works in many configurations.
And that is why is seems it does not really work in any…