Monday, August 22, 2011

Origins of translation and cellular life

A paper by Derek Caetano-Anollés, Kyung Mo Kim, Jay E. Mittenthal and Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, "Proteome evolution and the metabolic origins of translation and cellular life", was recently published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution (72: 14-32, 2011). The paper describes phylogenomic efforts to unravel the history of the translation apparatus using information in the structure of protein domains at the fold family level of structural abstraction. Results suggest translation started with metabolic rather than biosynthetic roles and its emergence was linked to the appearance of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and translation factors. The ribosomal machinery was a later addition. It appeared together with domains needed for the specificity of the genetic code.

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