Spontaneous Formation of RNA, Peptido RNA and Cofactors in Aqueous Solution
Prof. Clemens Richert, Universität Stuttgart
The enzyme-free formation of functional biopolymers from simple building blocks is a critical step in the processes leading to the first species capable of Darwinian evolution. Demonstrating experimentally that amino acids and nucleotides oligomerize into biopolymers that can encode genetic information and that can catalyze metabolic reactions has been difficult. While studying enzyme-free primer extension with in situ activation, we observed the de novo formation of RNA strands.1 When amino acids were added, the formation of peptido RNAs was observed in the same solution.2 The reaction conditions that induced growth of peptide chains, RNA chains, and genetic copying also led to the formation of the cofactors ATP, NAD+ and FAD. Several reaction channels can be monitored by NMR. Simultaneous, uninstructed chain growth occurs without pre-activation of either amino acids or ribonucleotides in an aqueous buffer containing little more than an organic condensing agent and an organocatalyst. A systems chemistry approach to rationalizing the underlying reaction networks of biopolymer formation in the absence of enzymes is presented.
1. M. Jauker, H. Griesser, C. Richert, Copying of RNA sequences without pre-activation. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 14559-14563.
2. M. Jauker, H. Griesser, C. Richert, Spontaneous formation of RNA strands, peptidyl RNA and cofactors. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 14564-14569.