DNA - is it alive?

Anthonie Muller awjm at holyrood.ed.ac.uk
Thu Apr 24 10:58:35 EST 1997

On 15 Apr 1997, Matthew Stanfield wrote:

> Hi I'm writing a university essay on artificial life. What I would like to
> know is if DNA could under any circumstances be considered alive? What about
> proteins? 

My origin of life model starts with a protein (the F1 moiety of the
ATPsynthase enzyme, which catalyses during origin of life
conditions several condensation reactions during
thermal cycling). Since the protein can propagate (it makes many proteins,
a very minor fraction of which has identical capabilities) but with a very
low efficiency. Since my first enzyme can convert energy (it is
essentially a heat engine) and can propagate I call it alive.

Anthonie Muller

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