Leipzig Scientists Make Two-Billion-Year-Old Enzyme Breakthrough

December 2022

Researchers at the University of Leipzig have succeeded in reconstructing an RNA polymerase as it likely existed roughly two billion years ago. The prehistoric protein represented a major step in evolution because unlike its precursors, it didn’t work continuously and was thus more effective, as modern-day enzymes are.

The reconstruction allowed scientists for the first time to understand the evolutionary advantages of current enzymes and answer the question of why the latter keep letting go of their substrate.

“We have now finally been able to explain why modern tRNA nucleotidyltransferases work so efficiently despite their distributive nature,” said Professor Mario Mörl on the University of Leipzig website. “We had the question 20 years ago and now we can finally answer it… This close cooperation between bioinformatics and biochemistry has existed in Leipzig for several years and has proven, not for the first time, to be a great advantage for both sides.”

© Diana Smikalla, Universität Leipzig