Coenzymes are often considered as remnants of primordial metabolism, but not as hereditary molecules. I suggest that coenzyme-like molecules (CLMs) performed hereditary functions before the emergence of nucleic acids. Autocatalytic CLMs modified (encoded) surface properties of hydrocarbon microspheres, to which they were anchored, and these changes enhanced autocatalysis and propagation of CLMs. Heredity started from a single kind of self-reproducing CLM, and then evolved into more complex coenzyme autocatalytic networks containing multiple kinds of CLMs. Polymerization of CLMs on the surface of microspheres and development of template-based synthesis is a potential evolutionary path towards the emergence of nucleic acids.
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