The emergence of contemporary biochemistry

All life forms we now know have essentially the same biochemistry, based on DNA, RNA and a large group of proteins. But why those? There are many other sets of protein molecules imaginable that are not used. Why is that?

The emergence of contemporary biochemistry

Life today uses a specific set of molecules although many others are conceivable and accessible? DNA is composed of only two base pairs of proteins. Energy is regulated by the same set of molecules in all living cells. Why? 

There is also a special chemical property of life that researchers are trying to explain. Many of the basic molecules are both left-handed and right-handed. Life, however, uses not both, but either the left-turning version, for example of amino acids, or the right-turning version, as in the case of sugars. We call this homochirality. Researchers try to understand why the first cells developed a preference for left or right.

Researchers want to know whether this biochemistry is an inevitable outcome of evolution or a result of an accidental step in the creation of life. Research focuses on identifying the evolutionary pathways along which contemporary biochemistry could have developed. Other researchers try to develop fully synthetic primeval life and then let it evolve. Researchers can then observe the extent to which biochemistry will appear to be the existing biochemistry of life.


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