REINVENTING THE WHEEL
The identification of the three proteins also resolved another previously unanswered question in molecular evolution research: How is a ribozyme replaced by a protein enzyme? The answer provided by data collected during the project is that the protein-only mitochondrial RNase P developed in parallel to a pre-existing ribozyme. Eventually, it replaced the latter. It is interesting to note that the three protein components have been recruited from entirely different biochemical pathways and yet they have nevertheless retained their original functions. Prof. Rossmanith adds: "We are also calling mitochondrial RNase P a patchwork enzyme, because it seems to be assembled from components available by chance at the time of its appearance in evolution." It is still unclear why only animal mitochondrial RNase P and not all ribozymes have been replaced by protein enzymes. Indeed, the results of this successful FWF project have opened the door to a whole range of questions - and answers.
Ramona Seba | PR&D
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