Jack W. Szostak

The Origins of Cellular Life

Category: Lectures

Date: 30 June 2015

Duration: 31 min

Quality: HD MD SD

Jack W. Szostak (2015) - The Origins of Cellular Life


The complexity of modern biological life has long made it difficult to understand how life could emerge spontaneously from the chemistry of the early earth. We are attempting to synthesize simple artificial cells in order to discover plausible pathways for the transition from chemistry to biology. Very primitive cells may have consisted of a self-replicating nucleic acid genome, encapsulated by a self-replicating cell membrane. A chemically rich environment that provided the building blocks of membranes, nucleic acids and peptides, along with sources of chemical energy, could have led to the emergence of replicating, evolving cells.

Suggested readings:
1) Blain JC, Szostak JW. Progress toward synthetic cells. Annu Rev Biochem. 2014;83:615-40. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-080411-124036. Epub 2014 Mar 3. Review. PMID: 24606140.
2) Adamala K, Szostak JW. Nonenzymatic template-directed RNA synthesis inside model protocells. Science. 2013 Nov 29;342(6162):1098-1100. doi: 10.1126/science.1241888. PMID: 24288333; PMCID: PMC4104020.