DNA and its cousin RNA store genetic information and enable life as we know it – but what if millions of lesser-known chemicals can do exactly the same?
A new study suggests that more than 1 million chemical similarities can encode biological information in the same way as DNA. A new study published on September 9 in Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling can guide the way to new goals for pharmaceutical drugs, explain how life first evolves on Earth and even helps us we are looking for forms of life outside our planet, the authors wrote. "It is truly exciting to consider the potential for alternative genetic systems … that they may have originated and evolved in different environments, perhaps even on other planets or moons in our solar system." co-author Jay Goodwin, a chemist at Emory University, said in a statement .
Both DNA and RNA, the two known types of nucleic acids, contain chemical bits called nucleotides that bind in a specific order and transmit different data, depending on their sequence, similar to individual letters in a written sentence. Some natural and human-made molecules mimic the basic structure of DNA, but so far no one has tried to count how many of these similarities may exist, the authors wrote.
Related: 7 Theories of the Origin of Life
"There are two types of nucleic acids in biology," co-author Jim Cleves, a chemist at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, says in the statement. "We wanted to know if there was another million or even a million more.
" The answer seems to be much, much more than expected, "Cleves said.
Related: Life: Pictures of DNA Structures
The authors create a computer program to generate chemical formulas for nucleic acid-like molecules. In DNA, nucleotides bind in different pairs and assemble in line, so scientists make sure that the molecules they generate can be formed in the same way, ultimately their program
"We were surprised by the result of this calculation," said co-author Marcus Meringer, a chemist at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne, in a statement. "It would be very difficult for it was estimated a priori that there were more than one million nucleic acids like skeletons. Now we know and can start exploring some of them in the lab. "
Multiple views ̵
Similarities may also feed future medical progress they added watts, which resemble nucleotides, are already being used to undermine dangerous viruses and malignant cancer cells in the human body, said in a statement.With a library of structurally similar molecules by hand, drug developers could potentially accept the similarities of DNA as a major weapon
"It's absolutely fascinating to think that using modern computing techniques, we can come up with new drugs when we look for alternative DNA and RNA molecules that can store hereditary information, "says co-author Peter Berger, a biochemist at Emory University,
Originally posted at Science Live .