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Keywords:

  • DNA ligation;
  • nucleic acids;
  • origins of life;
  • pre-RNA;
  • proto-RNA;
  • purines
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

The ancestors of RNA? There is a long-standing proposal that contemporary nucleic acids might have evolved from RNA-like polymers that utilized only purine–purine base pairs. Here we demonstrate the great advantage that increased nucleobase stacking area provides for nonenzymatic ligation.