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SELF-ASSEMBLY OF LIPID DROPLETS AND POLYRIBONUCLEOTIDES OR PRIMORDIAL SOUP REVISITED Erhan SL~leymano~lu1 and Nursen ~oruh 2 1institute of Natural and Applied Sciences, Department of Biotechnology and 2Department of Chemistry, Middle East Technical University, 06531-Ankara, Turkey, Fax: 90 312 213 43 38, E-mail: ncoruh@rorqual.cc.metu.edu.tr Despite the lack of detailed information about the origin of life, no doubt exists regarding the interest in this subject. There is growing evidence to support the role of RNA World trying to model evolution of early life. For proper self-organization of polynucleotides in a test tube there is a need for specific proteinaceous catalysts-enzymes, which were not present initially in a primordial soup. However, there were minerals and metal ions acting as less efficient catalysts. The initial cell membrane appearing before polynucleotides may have provided a suitable surface for prebiotic RNA synthesis. These RNA-lipid microspheres interactions could have been stabilized by already existing metal ions. Having considered the physicochemical characteristics of lipid-nucleic acid interactions at different levels and their role in functioning of modem cells and based on our own data as well as that of other research groups, it is possible to consider the primeval role of divalent cations (Ca2+ and Mg 2+) as an ancestral condensating agents in such self-organizing systems, the triple associations between pre-RNA molecules, lipid droplets and metal ions being considered as a bioinorganic models of protocells.

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