PMID: 3713221Mar 7, 1986Paper

Autocatalytic sets of proteins

Journal of Theoretical Biology
S A Kauffman

Abstract

This article investigates the possibility that the emergence of reflexively autocatalytic sets of peptides and polypeptides may be an essentially inevitable collective property of any sufficiently complex set of polypeptides. The central idea is based on the connectivity properties of random directed graphs. In the set of amino acid monomer and polymer species up to some maximum length, M, the number of possible polypeptides is large, but, for specifiable "legitimate" end condensation, cleavage and transpeptidation exchange reactions, the number of potential reactions by which the possible polypeptides can interconvert is very much larger. A directed graph in which arrows from smaller fragments to larger condensation products depict potential synthesis reactions, while arrows from the larger peptide to the smaller fragments depict the reverse cleavage reactions, comprises the reaction graph for such a system. Polypeptide protoenzymes are able to catalyze such reactions. The distribution of catalytic capacities in peptide space is a fundamental problem in its own right, and in its bearing on the existence of autocatalytic sets of proteins. Using an initial idealized hypothesis that an arbitrary polypeptide has a fixed a priori p...Continue Reading

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