6.3 RNA World

From foregoing discussion, an immediate question becomes evident – which is the first genetic material? It shall be discussed in detail in the chapter on chemical evolution, but briefly, we shall highlight some of the facts and points.

RNA was the first genetic material. There is now enough evidence to suggest that essential life processes (such as metabolism, translation, splicing, etc.), evolved around RNA. RNA used to act as a genetic material as well as a catalyst (there are some important biochemical reactions in living systems that are catalysed by RNA catalysts and not by protein enzymes).

But, RNA being a catalyst was reactive and hence unstable. Therefore, DNA has evolved from RNA with chemical modifications that make it more stable. DNA being double stranded and having complementary strand further resists changes by evolving a process of repair.

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