Book of Abstracts: Albany 2011

category image Albany 2011
Conversation 17
June 14-18 2011
©Adenine Press (2010)

RNA, a Precursor to the Origin of Life

The RNA world is believed to be the most likely precursor to the origins to life on Earth (1). We observed initially that montmorillonite clay-catalyzed the formation of RNA oligomers from activated nucleotides to yield oligomers as long as 10 mers. The reactions were carried out at room temperature in water and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) separated the oligomers formed on ion exchange and reverse phase HPLC columns. The next stage in the study was the generation of oligomers by the elongation of decamers to form 30-50 mers. The third stage in the study was when 1-methyladenine was used to activate the monomer in place of imidazole. The positive charge on the 1-methyladenine resulted in the formation of 40-50 mers in one day rather than the in previous procedure where it took 14 days to generate 40-50 mers. Current studies on our approach to the RNA world are the investigation of the reactions of racemic activated monomers. Mixtures of D, L-ImpA with D, L-ImpU were reacted on the premise that if RNA oligomers were formed on the primitive Earth they would have been formed as racemic mixtures. Since ImpA and ImpU are complementary we investigated the reaction of D, L-ImpA with D, L- ImpU and then isolated the dimers, trimers and tetramers. The linear dimers, cyclic dimers and trimers were separated by HPLC using ion exchange first and then each fraction was collected and separated by HPLC reverse phase chromatography. The homochirality of the linear dimers and cyclic dimers did not yield noteworthy products but it was impressive that 75% of the trimers were homochiral (2)

  1. J. P. Ferris, P. C. Joshi, M. F. Aldersley, J. W. Delano, J. Am., Chem. Soc. 13369-13374 (2009).
  2. Joshi, P. C. Aldersley, M. F.. Delano, J. W., Ferris, J. P., Orig. Life, Evol. Biosp. 40, 000-000.

James P. Ferris
Prakash C. Joshi
Michael F. Aldersley
John W. Delano

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY 12180

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