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Life Science Zurich Communication & Events

Molecular cooperation at the threshold of life

Protein-​like aggregates known as amyloids can bind to molecules of genetic material. It is possible that these two types of molecules stabilised each other during the development of life – and that this might even have paved the way for the genetic code.

Amyloids are protein-​like aggregates that often form fibres (artist’s impression). (Visualisation: Science Photo Library / Alfred Pasieka)

In brief

  • Amyloids may be among the first larger precursor molecules of life.
  • They are able to bind to RNA and DNA molecules and thereby stabilise them, as researchers at ETH Zurich have now been able to show.
  • The sequence of the nucleotides in the genetic material has an effect on how it binds with the amyloids. This could provide clues as to how the genetic code developed over the course of evolution.

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