3 years ago

Prebiotic selection and assembly of proteinogenic amino acids and natural nucleotides from complex mixtures

Prebiotic selection and assembly of proteinogenic amino acids and natural nucleotides from complex mixtures
Matthew W. Powner, Saidul Islam, Dejan-Krešimir Bučar
A central problem for the prebiotic synthesis of biological amino acids and nucleotides is to avoid the concomitant synthesis of undesired or irrelevant by-products. Additionally, multistep pathways require mechanisms that enable the sequential addition of reactants and purification of intermediates that are consistent with reasonable geochemical scenarios. Here, we show that 2-aminothiazole reacts selectively with two- and three-carbon sugars (glycolaldehyde and glyceraldehyde, respectively), which results in their accumulation and purification as stable crystalline aminals. This permits ribonucleotide synthesis, even from complex sugar mixtures. Remarkably, aminal formation also overcomes the thermodynamically favoured isomerization of glyceraldehyde into dihydroxyacetone because only the aminal of glyceraldehyde separates from the equilibrating mixture. Finally, we show that aminal formation provides a novel pathway to amino acids that avoids the synthesis of the non-proteinogenic α,α-disubstituted analogues. The common physicochemical mechanism that controls the proteinogenic amino acid and ribonucleotide assembly from prebiotic mixtures suggests that these essential classes of metabolite had a unified chemical origin.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchem.2703

DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2703

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