SFB 1032: Nanoagents for Spatiotemporal Control of Molecular and Cellular Reactions
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Autonomous Replicators using Molecular Cooperation

Molecules can memorize information if they can copy it before their own degradation. We will ex-plore local phase transitions in a non-equilibrium setting as an unusual, but robust approach to rep-lication of molecular information. Preliminary results show that DNA oligomers cooperatively form hydrogels under the accumulation dynamics of a thermal gradient. Apparently, only DNA with very similar sequences form the gel. Is replication possible by this phase transition? At best, the gel would maintain its sequence information even if fed with random oligomer sequences. If correct, phase transitions of oligonucleotides could be the first step in the molecular evolution of life.