DNA, the long-term carrier of genetic information, may be a bit more glamorous, but RNA plays so many roles in the cell that it makes DNA look boring. An “RNA World” was envisioned as early as 1962, a stage early in the evolution of life where RNA played the role of both enzyme and genetic carrier. In the just few years, scientists have discovered that the critical sites of the ribosome, the component of the cell that converts an RNA sequence into a protein, is composed of RNA. The RNA World, describes the latest research on the roles RNA plays in life today, demonstrating the tremendous versatility of the molecule. Although much of the picture is murky (How was RNA synthesized in prebiotic conditions? How could RNA have been kept stable enough to be a genetic carrier?), the “RNA World” is more plausable than ever.
With 25 chapters written by more than 60 authors, the third edition is completely revised from the second. Although the first third of the book is largely speculative, most of it is entirely practical, focused on recent discoveries on the roles RNA plays in modern life. Although speculation on the RNA World began with the discovery that RNA plays many roles in protein synthesis, such as messenger RNA, transfer RNA, and in the ribosome, the research described in this book shows that RNA is central to gene regulation in many ways, such as the splicing of introns, the stabilization of chromosomes, and that it plays a role in the generation of most “junk” DNA.
is a fun and fascinating trip for anyone who’s comfortable with the language of molecular biology.
Title: RNA World: the nature of modern RNA suggests a prebiotic RNA
Editors: Raymond F. Gesteland, Thomas R. Cech, John F. Atkins
Published: 2006, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press