Volume 88, Number 4, November 2009
Article Number 48006
Number of page(s) 5
Section Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology
Published online 03 December 2009
EPL, 88 (2009) 48006
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/88/48006

Escalation of error catastrophe for enzymatic self-replicators

B. Obermayer and E. Frey

Arnold-Sommerfeld-Center for Theoretical Physics and Center for NanoScience, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München - Theresienstr. 37, 80333 München, Germany, EU

received 24 July 2009; accepted in final form 9 November 2009; published November 2009
published online 3 December 2009

It is a long-standing question in origin-of-life research whether the information content of replicating molecules can be maintained in the presence of replication errors. Extending standard quasispecies models of non-enzymatic replication, we analyze highly specific enzymatic self-replication mediated through an otherwise neutral recognition region, which leads to frequency-dependent replication rates. We find a significant reduction of the maximally tolerable error rate, because the replication rate of the fittest molecules decreases with the fraction of functional enzymes. Our analysis is extended to hypercyclic couplings as an example for catalytic networks.

87.10.-e - General theory and mathematical aspects.
87.23.Kg - Dynamics of evolution.
87.15.R- - Reactions and kinetics.

© EPLA 2009