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Abiotic formation of RNA-like oligomers by montmorillonite catalysis: part II

  • Gözen Ertem (a1) (a2) (a3), Ann M. Snellinger-O'Brien (a4), M. C. Ertem (a5), D. A. Rogoff (a2), Jason P. Dworkin (a3), Murray V. Johnston (a4) and Robert M. Hazen (a1)...


This work is an extension of our previous studies carried out to investigate the possible catalytic role of minerals in the abiotic synthesis of biologically important molecules. In the presence of montmorillonite, a member of the phyllosilicate group minerals that are abundant on Earth and identified on Mars, activated RNA monomers, namely 5′-phosphorimidazolides of nucleosides (ImpNs), undergo condensation reactions in aqueous electrolyte solution producing oligomers with similar structures to short RNA fragments. Analysis of the linear trimer isomers formed in the reaction of a mixture of activated adenosine and cytidine monomers (ImpA and ImpC, respectively) employing high-performance liquid chromatography, selective enzymatic hydrolysis and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectroscopy molecular weight measurements demonstrate that montmorillonite catalysis facilitates the formation of hetero-isomers containing 56% A- and 44% C-monomer incorporated in their structure. The results also show that 56% of the monomer units are linked together by RNA-like 3′, 5′-phosphodiester bonds. These results follow the same trend observed in our most recent work studying the reaction of activated adenosine and uridine monomers, and support Bernal's hypothesis proposing the possible catalytic role of minerals in the abiotic processes in the course of chemical evolution.



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Abiotic formation of RNA-like oligomers by montmorillonite catalysis: part II

  • Gözen Ertem (a1) (a2) (a3), Ann M. Snellinger-O'Brien (a4), M. C. Ertem (a5), D. A. Rogoff (a2), Jason P. Dworkin (a3), Murray V. Johnston (a4) and Robert M. Hazen (a1)...


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