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Obermayer, Benedikt; Frey, Erwin (2007): Escalation of error catastrophe for enzymatic self-replicators. In: EPL (Europhysics Letters), Vol. 88, No. 4, 48006


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.