Astrobiologists Identify New Set of Reactions Relevant to the Origin of Life
Scientists supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program have discovered a new set of chemical reactions that generate the building blocks of proteins and DNA using molecules thought to be present on the early Earth. The finding could represent a new paradigm in the transition from prebiotic chemistry to life, which occurred on the Earth billions of years ago.
The researchers found that cyanide, ammonia, and carbon dioxide could be used in the set of reactions to produce amino acids and nucleic acids. The formation of these molecules is thought to be a key step in the origin of life. Importantly, the team believes that the reactions could have taken place on the ancient Earth at a time when the first living cells appeared.
The study, “Prebiotic synthesis of α-amino acids and orotate from α-ketoacids potentiates transition to extant metabolic pathways,” was published in the journal Nature Chemistry.
Click here to read a press release concerning this research from Scripps Research.
Pulletikurti, et. al. (2022) Prebiotic synthesis of α-amino acids and orotate from α-ketoacids potentiates transition to extant metabolic pathways. Nature Chemistry. DOI: 10.1038/s41557-022-00999-w