A team of NASA-supported researchers have outlined a new method for synthesizing molecules known as 2’,3’-cyclic canonical nucleotides. This class of compounds has wide-ranging roles in biology, and could have been important in processes involved in the origins of life on Earth. On the early Earth, 2’,3’-cyclic canonical nucleotides could have been involved in linking together individual nucleotides to form chains (oligonucleotides), a necessary step in making molecules like DNA.

Up until now, studying 2’,3’-cyclic canonical nucleotides in the laboratory has been challenging because these compounds are difficult to make and the process of synthesizing them is expensive. The new paper outlines a method for quickly synthesizing these compounds in the laboratory. A robust method for producing usable quantities of 2’,3’-cyclic canonical nucleotides opens the door for further studies of their chemical properties by astrobiologists, as well as scientists in many other disciplines.

The study, “Microwave-Assisted One-Step Synthesis of 2′,3′-Cyclic Phosphates of Nucleosides,” was published in the journal Current Protocols.