Origin of translation: The hypothesis of permanently attached adaptors

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A mechanism for prebiotic translation is proposed in which primeval transfer-RNA (adaptors) are assumed to be permanently associated with messenger nucleic acid molecules. Residual 'fossil' evidences are found to be present within the base sequences of contemporary tRNAs, suggesting the existence of inter-primal-tRNA interactions necessary for the mechanism. The structure of proposed primal-tRNA is such that it can not only choose its own amino acid in the absence of aminoacyl synthetase, but can also associate nonspecifically with adjacent primal-tRNA molecules attached to the neighbouring codons. Such associations can give rise, through cooperative binding between message and adaptors to the 'static template surfaces' which can direct translation of nucleotide sequences into those of amino acids. The origins of ribosomes and contemporary genetic code are suggested by this hypothesis. Proposed structures and processes are thermodynamically compatible. The approximate date of occurence of the proposed system is calculated, which is consistent with the period of occurence of the earliest organisms with ribosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-351
Number of pages9
JournalOrigins of Life
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1981
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


  • Adaptors
  • Genetic code
  • Primal-tRNA
  • Ribosomes
  • Static template surfaces
  • Translation

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