Could the replication of mirror DNA teach something about chiral selection?
I received a link to a very interesting popular article from which I learned that short strands of mirror DNA and mirror RNA - known as aptamers - have been be produced commercially for decades - a total surprise to me. Aptamers bind to targets like proteins and block their activity and this ability can be utilized for medical purposes.
Now researchers at Tsinghua University of Beijing have been able to create a mirror variant of an enzyme - DNA polymeraze - catalyzing the transcription of mirror DNA to mirror RNA also replication of mirror DNA. What is needed are the DNA strand to be replicated or transcribed, the mirror DNA nucleotides, and short primer strand since the DNA polymeraze starts to work only if the primer is present. This is like recalling a poem only after hearing the first few words.
The commonly used DNA polymerase containing about 600 amino-adics is too long to be built up as a right-handed version and researchers used a much shorter version: African swine fever virus having only 174 amino-acids. The replication turned out to be very slow. A primer of 12 nucleotides was extended to a strand of 18 nucleotides in about 4 hours: 3/2 nucleotides per hour.
The extension to a strand of 56 nucleotides took 36 hours making 44/36= 11/9 nucleotides per hour. DNA and its mirror image co-existed peacefully in a solution. One explanation for the absence of mirror life is that the replication and transcription of mirror form was so slow that it lost the fight for survival. Second explanation is that the emergence of mirror forms of DNA polymerase and other enzymes was less probable.
Can one learn anything about this?
- Chiral selection is one of the deep mysteries of biology. Amino-acids are left-handed and DNA and RNA double strands form a right-handed screw. One can assign handedness with individual DNA nucleotides and with DNA double strand but web sources speak only about the chirality of double strand. If the chirality of the DNA nucleotides were not fixed, it would have been very probably discovered long time ago as an additional bit doubling the number of DNA letters.
- What could be the origin of the chirality selection? Second helicity could have been loser in the fight for survival and the above finding supports this: fast ones eat the slow ones like in market economy. There must be however a breaking of mirror symmetry. Weak interactions break of mirror symmetry but the breaking is extremely small because the weak bosons mediating weak interaction are so massive that the length scale in which the breaking of mirror symmetry matters is of order 1/100 times proton size. This breaking is quite too small to explain chiral selection occurring in nano-scales: there is discrepancy of 8 orders of magnitude. The proposal has been that the breaking of mirror symmetry has been spontaneous and induced by a very small seed. As far as I know, no convincing candidate for the seed has been identified.
The crucial finding is that the states of dark proton regarded as part of dark nuclear string can be mapped naturally to DNA, RNA, tRNA, and amino-acid molecules and that vertebrate genetic code can be reproduced naturally. This suggests that genetic code is realized at the level of dark nuclear physics and induces its chemical variant. More generally, biochemistry would be kind of shadow of dark matter physics. A model for dark proton sequences and their helical pairing is proposed and estimates for the parity conserving and breaking parts of Z0 interaction potential are deduced.
For details see the article Could the replication of mirror DNA teach something about chiral selection? or the chapter Evolution in many-sheeted space-time of "Genes and Memes".
For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.