Binding of precursors to replicator assemblies can improve replication fidelity and mediate error correction

21 November 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Copying information is vital for life's propagation. Current life forms maintain a low error rate in replication using complex machinery to prevent and correct errors. However, primitive life had to deal with higher error rates, limiting its ability to evolve. Discovering mechanisms to reduce errors would alleviate this constraint. Here, we introduce a new mechanism that decreases error rates and corrects errors in synthetic self-replicating systems driven by self-assembly. Previous work showed that macrocycle replication occurs through the accumulation of precursor material on the sides of the fibrous replicator assemblies. Stochastic simulations now reveal that selective precursor binding to the fiber surface enhances replication fidelity and error correction. Centrifugation experiments show that replicator fibers can exhibit the necessary selectivity in precursor binding. Our results suggest that synthetic replicator systems are more evolvable than previously thought, encouraging further evolution-focused experiments.


Self Replication
Prebiotic Evolution

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
An example of a simulation. Relative energies for hexamers and for trimers. Examples of fiber compositions, taken at 10% precursors conversion to hexamers. Data set is statistically converged. Examples of the amount of trimers bound to fibers. Small deviations from the bulk distribution affect hexamers differently. Error correction in case (i). Centrifugation experiments. Data availability.

Supplementary weblinks


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