The article by Mark Greener1 and commentary by the Editor2 give us a superb view of the present and future of enzymology, but there are also lessons to be learned by revisiting its past that suggest how enzymes came into being and how they relate to the origin of life.3

Enzymes accelerate biochemical processes by factors ranging up to a billion billion (1018) fold.4 A reasonable speculation is that the first evolutionary structure contained one protein molecule that replicated with extreme slowness, perhaps only once per one million years. Through mutation and selection for rapidity of replication, units evolved with cooperating, specialized proteins that replicated faster than the original one protein unit, a process that culminated with a living cell in which a protein molecule forms in about five seconds (a one thousand billion fold acceleration).

Simon Black

Scientist Emeritus, National Institutes of Health...

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