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The origin of biological homochirality along with the origin of life

Fig 1

The arising of homochirality at the polymer level in the RNA world.

The evolution starts with a racemic pool of nucleotide precursors, in which the two chiral types can interconvert readily (the green star). RNA’s preference to incorporate monomers of chirality identical to its own (‘chiral selection’) in its de novo polymerization (the surface-mediated synthesis) and replication (the template-directed synthesis) brings about the autocatalytic feature, which may amplify the slight difference between the two chiral forms–perhaps initially occurring by chance. During the amplification, the materials in the opposite form shift toward the target form through the racemization-balancing (the green star). Consequently, substantial chirality-deviation of the whole system would occur (the green arrow), engendering long RNA chains with uniform handedness, which renders the appearance of ribozymes possible. Then, the advent of ribozymes (see text for explanations of such ribozymes), may further enhance the chirality-deviation, due to their more specific, efficient chiral-selection. That is, the resulted biological chirality of one type, instead of the other type, should have initially occurred by chance this way.

Fig 1

doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007592.g001