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Symmetry 2010, 2(2), 1055-1080; doi:10.3390/sym2021055

Photochirogenesis: Photochemical Models on the Origin of Biomolecular Homochirality

1 Faculté des Sciences, University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, UMR 6001 CNRS, LCMBA, 28 Avenue Valrose, 06108 Nice, France 2 Synchrotron SOLEIL, l’Orme des Merisiers, Saint Aubin BP 48, 91192 Gif-sur-Yvette, France 3 Institute for Storage Ring Facilities (ISA), Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 120, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark 4 Astrochimie et Origines, Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale (IAS), Bât. 121, Université Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France 5 Institute for Applied and Physical Chemistry, University of Bremen, Leobener Str. NW2, 28359 Bremen, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 March 2010 / Revised: 26 April 2010 / Accepted: 13 May 2010 / Published: 25 May 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry of Life and Homochirality)
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Current research focuses on a better understanding of the origin of biomolecular asymmetry by the identification and detection of the possibly first chiral molecules that were involved in the appearance and evolution of life on Earth. We have reasons to assume that these molecules were specific chiral amino acids. Chiral amino acids have been identified in both chondritic meteorites and simulated interstellar ices. Present research reasons that circularly polarized electromagnetic radiation was identified in interstellar environments and an asymmetric interstellar photon-molecule interaction might have triggered biomolecular symmetry breaking. We review on the possible prebiotic interaction of ‘chiral photons’ in the form of circularly polarized light, with early chiral organic molecules. We will highlight recent studies on enantioselective photolysis of racemic amino acids by circularly polarized light and experiments on the asymmetric photochemical synthesis of amino acids from only one C and one N containing molecules by simulating interstellar environments. Both approaches are based on circular dichroic transitions of amino acids that will be presented as well.
Keywords: amino acids; homochirality; enantioselective photosynthesis; asymmetric photolysis; origin of life amino acids; homochirality; enantioselective photosynthesis; asymmetric photolysis; origin of life
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Meinert, C.; Filippi, J.-J.; Nahon, L.; Hoffmann, S.V.; D’Hendecourt, L.; De Marcellus, P.; Bredehöft, J.H.; Thiemann, W.-P.; Meierhenrich, U.J. Photochirogenesis: Photochemical Models on the Origin of Biomolecular Homochirality. Symmetry 2010, 2, 1055-1080.

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