Indexed on: 24 Apr '12Published on: 24 Apr '12Published in: Chemistry & Biology
Increasingly complex reactions are being constructed by bottom-up approaches with the aim of developing an artificial cell. We have been engaged in the construction of a translation-coupled replication system of genetic information from RNA and a reconstituted translation system. Here a mathematical model was established to gain a quantitative understanding of the complex reaction network. The sensitivity analysis predicted that the limiting factor for the present replication reaction was the appearance of parasitic replicators. We then confirmed experimentally that repression of such parasitic replicators by compartmentalization of the reaction in water-in-oil emulsions improved the duration of self-replication. We also found that the main source of the parasite was genomic RNA, probably by nonhomologous recombination. This result provided experimental evidence for the importance of parasite repression for the development of long-lasting genome replication systems.