PerspectiveMolecular Evolution

Do Proteins Predate DNA?

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Science  22 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5440, pp. 690-692
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5440.690

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There has been much debate about which evolved first: DNA, RNA, or protein? Although it is now widely accepted that versatile RNA, with its abilities for storing information like DNA and catalyzing enzymic reactions like proteins, came first, it is not clear whether DNA or protein came next. In a provocative Perspective, Stephen Freeland and colleagues examine new evidence suggesting that RNA-encoded proteins evolved after RNA but before DNA.