Prebiotic stereoselective synthesis of purine and noncanonical pyrimidine nucleotide from nucleobases and phosphorylated carbohydrates [Chemistry]
According to a current “RNA first” model for the origin of life, RNA emerged in some form on early Earth to become the first biopolymer to support Darwinism here. Threose nucleic acid (TNA) and other polyelectrolytes are also considered as the possible first Darwinian biopolymer(s). This model is being developed by research pursuing a “Discontinuous Synthesis Model” (DSM) for the formation of RNA and/or TNA from precursor molecules that might have been available on early Earth from prebiotic reactions, with the goal of making the model less discontinuous. In general, this is done by examining the reactivity of isolated products from proposed steps that generate those products, with increasing complexity of the reaction mixtures in the proposed mineralogical environments. Here, we report that adenine, diaminopurine, and hypoxanthine nucleoside phosphates and a noncanonical pyrimidine nucleoside (zebularine) phosphate can be formed from the direct coupling reaction of cyclic carbohydrate phosphates with the free nucleobases. The reaction is stereoselective, giving only the β-anomer of the nucleotides within detectable limits. For purines, the coupling is also regioselective, giving the N-9 nucleotide for adenine as a major product. In the DSM, phosphorylated carbohydrates are presumed to have been available via reactions explored previously [Krishnamurthy R, Guntha S, Eschenmoser A (2000) Angew Chem Int Ed 39:2281–2285], while nucleobases are presumed to have been available from hydrogen cyanide and other nitrogenous species formed in Earth’s primitive atmosphere.
Publisher URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/43/11315.short