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Life 2017, 7(2), 19; doi:10.3390/life7020019

Small and Random Peptides: An Unexplored Reservoir of Potentially Functional Primitive Organocatalysts. The Case of Seryl-Histidine

1
Faculty of Chemistry, University of Warsaw, Pasteura 1, 02-093 Warsaw, Poland
2
Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
3
Department of Science, Roma Tre University, Viale G. Marconi 446, 00146 Rome, Italy
4
National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Roma Tre Section, Via della Vasca Navale 84, 00146 Rome, Italy
5
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Campus Ecotekne (S.P. 6 Lecce-Monteroni), 73100 Lecce, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Pier Luigi Luisi
Received: 5 February 2017 / Revised: 3 April 2017 / Accepted: 5 April 2017 / Published: 9 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology)
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Abstract

Catalysis is an essential feature of living systems biochemistry, and probably, it played a key role in primordial times, helping to produce more complex molecules from simple ones. However, enzymes, the biocatalysts par excellence, were not available in such an ancient context, and so, instead, small molecule catalysis (organocatalysis) may have occurred. The best candidates for the role of primitive organocatalysts are amino acids and short random peptides, which are believed to have been available in an early period on Earth. In this review, we discuss the occurrence of primordial organocatalysts in the form of peptides, in particular commenting on reports about seryl-histidine dipeptide, which have recently been investigated. Starting from this specific case, we also mention a peptide fragment condensation scenario, as well as other potential roles of peptides in primordial times. The review actually aims to stimulate further investigation on an unexplored field of research, namely one that specifically looks at the catalytic activity of small random peptides with respect to reactions relevant to prebiotic chemistry and early chemical evolution. View Full-Text
Keywords: fragment condensation; organocatalysis; peptide bond formation; phosphodiester bond formation; Ser-His; small peptides fragment condensation; organocatalysis; peptide bond formation; phosphodiester bond formation; Ser-His; small peptides
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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Wieczorek, R.; Adamala, K.; Gasperi, T.; Polticelli, F.; Stano, P. Small and Random Peptides: An Unexplored Reservoir of Potentially Functional Primitive Organocatalysts. The Case of Seryl-Histidine. Life 2017, 7, 19.

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