Exponential self-replication enabled through a fibre elongation/breakage mechanism

Colomb-Delsuc, M., Mattia, E., Sadownik, J. W. & Otto, S., 2015, In : Nature Communications. 6, 7 p., 7427.

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Self-replicating molecules are likely to have played a central role in the origin of life. Most scenarios of Darwinian evolution at the molecular level require self-replicators capable of exponential growth, yet only very few exponential replicators have been reported to date and general design criteria for exponential replication are lacking. Here we show that a peptide-functionalized macrocyclic self-replicator exhibits exponential growth when subjected to mild agitation. The replicator self-assembles into elongated fibres of which the ends promote replication and fibre growth. Agitation results in breakage of the growing fibres, generating more fibre ends. Our data suggest a mechanism in which mechanical energy promotes the liberation of the replicator from the inactive self-assembled state, thereby overcoming self-inhibition that prevents the majority of self-replicating molecules developed to date from attaining exponential growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7427
Number of pages7
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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