Federico Morán
Morán, Federico
University Complutense
Madrid, Spain
Title: Designing minimal cellular systems: a bottom-up approach
Authors: Federico Morán, Gabriel Piedrafita, Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo, Juli Peretó, Álvaro Moreno; and Francisco Montero.
Abstract:Life is based on cellular organization and, precisely,the main challengein understanding the origin of life is to explain the formation of the primordial cells from the organic matter present in a pre-biotic environment. Two main features should have characterized the early protocells: (1) be simple enough to appear easily in the chemical conditions of the early Earth;and(2) capacity to allow further pre-biotic evolution toward more complex systems, acquiring new properties. Such a cellular-like system must provide a framework that gives certain independence from the environment; it should be able to preserve itself and to generate new components of increasing structural complexity.

Recurrent organization could appear starting from just relatively simple sets of chemical aggregates. Focusing on the plausibility of such organized systems through the prebiotic evolution, some conditions should be addressed: (a)Molecularity; (b) Recursive self-maintained; (c) Autopoiesis; (d) Thermodynamic coherence; Stoichiometric coherence; (e) Self-reproduction; and (f) Increase of structural and functional complexity.

In this contribution,we present a discussion on some of these aspects. This is illustrated with different proposed models (Montero, F., et al. 2008, Stoichiometric analysis of self-maintaining metabolisms. J. Theor. Biol. 252:427-32; Olasagasti, F., et al. 2007, Energeticallyplausible model of a self-maintaining protocellular system. Bull. Math. Biol.69, 1423-1445) that represent theoretical metabolic Self-Maintained Systems that satisfies some of the aforementioned questions. With these models we provide a better understanding of how early cells could have developedbefore achieving highly complex tasks such as the synthesis of informational genetic molecules.

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