It is established that RNA is the first genetic material. Explain giving three reasons.
It is established that RNA is the first genetic material. Justify giving reasons.
RNA was the first genetic material in cells because
• RNA is capable of both storing genetic information and catalyzing chemical reactions
• Essential life processes (such as metabolism, translation, splicing, etc.), evolved around RNA.
• It has the tendency of self replication
Three molecular biologists in the early 1980’s (Leslie Orgel, Francis Brick and Carl Woese) independently proposed the ‘RNA world’ as the first stage in the evolution of life, a stage when RNA catalysed all molecules necessary for survival and replication. The term ‘RNA world’ first used by Walter Gilbert in 1986, hypothesizes RNA as the first genetic on Earth. There is now enough evidence to suggest that essential life processes (such as metabolism, translation and splicing etc.,) evolved around RNA. RNA has the ability to act as both genetic material and catalyst. There are several biochemical reactions in living systems that are catalysed by RNA. This catalytic RNA is known as ribozyme. But, RNA being a catalyst was reactive and hence unstable.
This led to evolution of a more stable form of DNA, with certain chemical modifications. Since DNA is a double stranded molecule having complementary strand, it has resisted changes by evolving a process of repair. Some RNA molecules function as gene regulators by binding to DNA and affect gene expression. Some viruses use RNA as the genetic material. Andrew Fire and Craig Mellow (recipients of Nobel Prize in 2006) were of the opinion that RNA is an active ingredient in the chemistry of life.