Compartmentalization and Cell Division through Molecular Discreteness and Crowding in a Catalytic Reaction Network

Kamimura, Atsushi, and Kunihiko Kaneko. “Compartmentalization and cell division through molecular discreteness and crowding in a catalytic reaction network.” Life 4, no. 4 (2014): 586-597.

Explanation of the emergence of primitive cellular structures from a set of chemical reactions is necessary to unveil the origin of life and to experimentally synthesize protocells. By simulating a cellular automaton model with a two-species hypercycle, we demonstrate the reproduction of a localized cluster; that is, a protocell with a growth-division process emerges when the replication and degradation speeds of one species are respectively slower than those of the other species, because of overcrowding of molecules as a natural outcome of the replication. The protocell exhibits synchrony between its division process and replication of the minority molecule. We discuss the effects of the crowding molecule on the formation of primitive structures. The generality of this result is demonstrated through the extension of our model to a hypercycle with three molecular species, where a localized layered structure of molecules continues to divide, triggered by the replication of a minority molecule at the center.

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