Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2009, 10(3), 746-760; doi:10.3390/ijms10030746
Article

Formation versus Hydrolysis of the Peptide Bond from a Quantum-mechanical Viewpoint: The Role of Mineral Surfaces and Implications for the Origin of Life

1 Dipartimento di Chimica IFM, NIS Centre of Excellence and INSTM (Materials Science and Technology) National Consortium, University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125, Torino, Italy 2 Departament de Química, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Spain
* Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 January 2009; in revised form: 16 February 2009 / Accepted: 23 February 2009 / Published: 26 February 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Origin of Life)
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Abstract: The condensation (polymerization by water elimination) of molecular building blocks to yield the first active biopolymers (e.g. of amino acids to form peptides) during primitive Earth is an intriguing question that nowadays still remains open since these processes are thermodynamically disfavoured in highly dilute water solutions. In the present contribution, formation and hydrolysis of glycine oligopeptides occurring on a cluster model of sanidine feldspar (001) surface have been simulated by quantum mechanical methods. Results indicate that the catalytic interplay between Lewis and Brønsted sites both present at the sanidine surface, in cooperation with the London forces acting between the biomolecules and the inorganic surface, plays a crucial role to: i) favour the condensation of glycine to yield oligopeptides as reaction products; ii) inhibit the hydrolysis of the newly formed oligopeptides. Both facts suggest that mineral surfaces may have helped in catalyzing, stabilizing and protecting from hydration the oligopeptides formed in the prebiotic era.
Keywords: Peptide bond formation; peptide hydrolysis; catalysis; mineral surfaces; theoretical calculations; prebiotic chemistry

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rimola, A.; Ugliengo, P.; Sodupe, M. Formation versus Hydrolysis of the Peptide Bond from a Quantum-mechanical Viewpoint: The Role of Mineral Surfaces and Implications for the Origin of Life. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2009, 10, 746-760.

AMA Style

Rimola A, Ugliengo P, Sodupe M. Formation versus Hydrolysis of the Peptide Bond from a Quantum-mechanical Viewpoint: The Role of Mineral Surfaces and Implications for the Origin of Life. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2009; 10(3):746-760.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rimola, Albert; Ugliengo, Piero; Sodupe, Mariona. 2009. "Formation versus Hydrolysis of the Peptide Bond from a Quantum-mechanical Viewpoint: The Role of Mineral Surfaces and Implications for the Origin of Life." Int. J. Mol. Sci. 10, no. 3: 746-760.

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