The Lipid World: From Catalytic and Informational Headgroups to Micelle Replication and Evolution Without Nucleic Acids

Bar-Even, Arren, Barak Shenhav, Ran Kafri, and Doron Lancet. “The lipid world: from catalytic and informational headgroups to micelle replication and evolution without nucleic acids.” In Life in the Universe , pp. 111-114. Springer, Dordrecht, 2004.

A widespread notion is that life arose from a single molecular replicator, probably a self-copying polynucleotide, in an RNA World (Joyce, 2002). We have proposed an alternative Lipid World scenario as an early evolutionary step in the emergence of cellular life on Earth (Segre et al., 2001). This concept combines the potential chemical activities of lipids and other amphiphiles, with their capacity to undergo spontaneous self-organization into supramolecular structures, such as micelles and bilayers. In quantitative, chemically-realistic computer simulations of our Graded Autocatalysis Replication Domain (GARD) model (Segre et al. , 1998), we have shown that prebiotic molecular networks, potentially existing within assemblies of lipid-like molecules, manifest a behavior similar to self reproduction or self-replication.

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