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Life, Volume 7, Issue 3 (September 2017)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Tracing the Repertoire of Promiscuous Enzymes along the Metabolic Pathways in Archaeal Organisms
Life 2017, 7(3), 30; doi:10.3390/life7030030
Received: 12 April 2017 / Revised: 9 July 2017 / Accepted: 10 July 2017 / Published: 13 July 2017
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Abstract
The metabolic pathways that carry out the biochemical transformations sustaining life depend on the efficiency of their associated enzymes. In recent years, it has become clear that promiscuous enzymes have played an important role in the function and evolution of metabolism. In this
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The metabolic pathways that carry out the biochemical transformations sustaining life depend on the efficiency of their associated enzymes. In recent years, it has become clear that promiscuous enzymes have played an important role in the function and evolution of metabolism. In this work we analyze the repertoire of promiscuous enzymes in 89 non-redundant genomes of the Archaea cellular domain. Promiscuous enzymes are defined as those proteins with two or more different Enzyme Commission (E.C.) numbers, according the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database. From this analysis, it was found that the fraction of promiscuous enzymes is lower in Archaea than in Bacteria. A greater diversity of superfamily domains is associated with promiscuous enzymes compared to specialized enzymes, both in Archaea and Bacteria, and there is an enrichment of substrate promiscuity rather than catalytic promiscuity in the archaeal enzymes. Finally, the presence of promiscuous enzymes in the metabolic pathways was found to be heterogeneously distributed at the domain level and in the phyla that make up the Archaea. These analyses increase our understanding of promiscuous enzymes and provide additional clues to the evolution of metabolism in Archaea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extremophiles and the Origin of Life)
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Open AccessArticle Silicate-Promoted Phosphorylation of Glycerol in Non-Aqueous Solvents: A Prebiotically Plausible Route to Organophosphates
Life 2017, 7(3), 29; doi:10.3390/life7030029
Received: 26 April 2017 / Revised: 20 June 2017 / Accepted: 23 June 2017 / Published: 29 June 2017
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Abstract
Phosphorylation reactions of glycerol were studied using different inorganic phosphates such as sodium phosphate, trimetaphosphate (a condensed phosphate), and struvite. The reactions were carried out in two non-aqueous solvents: formamide and a eutectic solvent consisting of choline-chloride and glycerol in a ratio of
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Phosphorylation reactions of glycerol were studied using different inorganic phosphates such as sodium phosphate, trimetaphosphate (a condensed phosphate), and struvite. The reactions were carried out in two non-aqueous solvents: formamide and a eutectic solvent consisting of choline-chloride and glycerol in a ratio of 1:2.5. The glycerol reacted in formamide and in the eutectic solvent with phosphate to yield its phosphorylated derivatives in the presence of silicates such as quartz sand and kaolinite clay. The reactions were carried out by heating glycerol with a phosphate source at 85 °C for one week and were analyzed by 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS). The yield of the phosphorylated glycerol was improved by the presence of silicates, and reached 90% in some experiments. Our findings further support the proposal that non-aqueous solvents are advantageous for the prebiotic synthesis of biomolecules, and suggest that silicates may have aided in the formation of organophosphates on the prebiotic earth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phosphorus (P) and the Origins of Life)
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Review

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Open AccessReview A Chemist’s Perspective on the Role of Phosphorus at the Origins of Life
Life 2017, 7(3), 31; doi:10.3390/life7030031
Received: 28 June 2017 / Revised: 6 July 2017 / Accepted: 11 July 2017 / Published: 13 July 2017
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Abstract
The central role that phosphates play in biological systems, suggests they also played an important role in the emergence of life on Earth. In recent years, numerous important advances have been made towards understanding the influence that phosphates may have had on prebiotic
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The central role that phosphates play in biological systems, suggests they also played an important role in the emergence of life on Earth. In recent years, numerous important advances have been made towards understanding the influence that phosphates may have had on prebiotic chemistry, and here, we highlight two important aspects of prebiotic phosphate chemistry. Firstly, we discuss prebiotic phosphorylation reactions; we specifically contrast aqueous electrophilic phosphorylation, and aqueous nucleophilic phosphorylation strategies, with dry-state phosphorylations that are mediated by dissociative phosphoryl-transfer. Secondly, we discuss the non-structural roles that phosphates can play in prebiotic chemistry. Here, we focus on the mechanisms by which phosphate has guided prebiotic reactivity through catalysis or buffering effects, to facilitating selective transformations in neutral water. Several prebiotic routes towards the synthesis of nucleotides, amino acids, and core metabolites, that have been facilitated or controlled by phosphate acting as a general acid–base catalyst, pH buffer, or a chemical buffer, are outlined. These facile and subtle mechanisms for incorporation and exploitation of phosphates to orchestrate selective, robust prebiotic chemistry, coupled with the central and universally conserved roles of phosphates in biochemistry, provide an increasingly clear message that understanding phosphate chemistry will be a key element in elucidating the origins of life on Earth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phosphorus (P) and the Origins of Life)
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