PerspectiveMolecular Biology

Climbing in 190 Dimensions

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Science  08 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6026, pp. 181-182
DOI: 10.1126/science.1205379

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Those who have looked at the night sky—not the dim remnant visible in cities, but the bright complexity seen in high, dark places—can appreciate the task assumed by Wochner et al. (1). On page 209, they describe the construction of an RNA enzyme (a template-dependent primed RNA polymerase) that emulates an ancient molecule that would have been crucial in the “RNA world,” believed to have predated DNA- and protein-based life. To find this enzyme, they searched vast molecular populations, holding potentially many, many more RNAs than the visible universe has stars.