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Title: Onset of natural selection in populations of autocatalytic heteropolymers

Abstract

We present that reduction of information entropy along with ever-increasing complexity is among the key signatures of life. Understanding the onset of such behavior in the early prebiotic world is essential for solving the problem of the origin of life. Here we study a general problem of heteropolymers capable of template-assisted ligation based on Watson-Crick-like hybridization. The system is driven off-equilibrium by cyclic changes in the environment. We model the dynamics of 2-mers, i.e., sequential pairs of specific monomers within the heteropolymer population. While the possible number of them is Z2 (where Z is the number of monomer types), we observe that most of the 2-mers get extinct, leaving no more than 2Z survivors. This leads to a dramatic reduction of the information entropy in the sequence space. Our numerical results are supported by a general mathematical analysis of the competition of growing polymers for constituent monomers. This natural-selection-like process ultimately results in a limited subset of polymer sequences. Importantly, the set of surviving sequences depends on initial concentrations of monomers and remains exponentially large (2L down from ZL for length L) in each of realizations. Therefore, an inhomogeneity in initial conditions allows for a massively parallel search of themore » sequence space for biologically functional polymers, such as ribozymes. We also propose potential experimental implementations of our model in the contexts of either biopolymers or artificial nano-structures.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States). Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN)
  2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL (United States). Department of Bioengineering; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL (United States). Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
OSTI Identifier:
1481404
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1476131
Report Number(s):
BNL-209426-2018-JAAM
Journal ID: ISSN 0021-9606
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0012704
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Chemical Physics
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 149; Journal Issue: 13; Journal ID: ISSN 0021-9606
Publisher:
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Tkachenko, Alexei V., and Maslov, Sergei. Onset of natural selection in populations of autocatalytic heteropolymers. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1063/1.5048488.
Tkachenko, Alexei V., & Maslov, Sergei. Onset of natural selection in populations of autocatalytic heteropolymers. United States. doi:10.1063/1.5048488.
Tkachenko, Alexei V., and Maslov, Sergei. Thu . "Onset of natural selection in populations of autocatalytic heteropolymers". United States. doi:10.1063/1.5048488. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1481404.
@article{osti_1481404,
title = {Onset of natural selection in populations of autocatalytic heteropolymers},
author = {Tkachenko, Alexei V. and Maslov, Sergei},
abstractNote = {We present that reduction of information entropy along with ever-increasing complexity is among the key signatures of life. Understanding the onset of such behavior in the early prebiotic world is essential for solving the problem of the origin of life. Here we study a general problem of heteropolymers capable of template-assisted ligation based on Watson-Crick-like hybridization. The system is driven off-equilibrium by cyclic changes in the environment. We model the dynamics of 2-mers, i.e., sequential pairs of specific monomers within the heteropolymer population. While the possible number of them is Z2 (where Z is the number of monomer types), we observe that most of the 2-mers get extinct, leaving no more than 2Z survivors. This leads to a dramatic reduction of the information entropy in the sequence space. Our numerical results are supported by a general mathematical analysis of the competition of growing polymers for constituent monomers. This natural-selection-like process ultimately results in a limited subset of polymer sequences. Importantly, the set of surviving sequences depends on initial concentrations of monomers and remains exponentially large (2L down from ZL for length L) in each of realizations. Therefore, an inhomogeneity in initial conditions allows for a massively parallel search of the sequence space for biologically functional polymers, such as ribozymes. We also propose potential experimental implementations of our model in the contexts of either biopolymers or artificial nano-structures.},
doi = {10.1063/1.5048488},
journal = {Journal of Chemical Physics},
number = 13,
volume = 149,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {10}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Figures / Tables:

FIG. 1 FIG. 1: A conceptual illustration of our model. The population of heteropolymers is cycled between day, a), and night, b), phases. During the night phase polymer chains undergo template-assisted ligation, joining left and right ends i and j respectively to form a new 2-mer $ij$. This process is assisted bymore » a complementary 2-mer $j^∗i^∗$. The process results in a reduced information entropy of chain sequences, that ends up being dominated by a small subset of 2-mers as illustrated in c).« less

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    Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.