Positively charged mineral surfaces promoted the accumulation of organic intermediates at the origin of metabolism

Amir Akbari, Bernhard O. Palsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

27 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Identifying plausible mechanisms for compartmentalization and accumulation of the organic intermediates of early metabolic cycles in primitive cells has been a major challenge in theories of life’s origins. Here, we propose a mechanism, where positive membrane potentials elevate the concentration of the organic intermediates. Positive membrane potentials are generated by positively charged surfaces of protocell membranes due to accumulation of transition metals. We find that (i) positive membrane potentials comparable in magnitude to those of modern cells can increase the concentration of the organic intermediates by several orders of magnitude; (ii) generation of large membrane potentials destabilize ion distributions; (iii) violation of electroneutrality is necessary to induce nonzero membrane potentials; and (iv) violation of electroneutrality enhances osmotic pressure and diminishes reaction efficiency, resulting in an evolutionary driving force for the formation of lipid membranes, specialized ion channels, and active transport systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010377
JournalPLOS Computational Biology
Volume18
Issue number8
Number of pages34
ISSN1553-734X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Positively charged mineral surfaces promoted the accumulation of organic intermediates at the origin of metabolism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this