Next Article in Journal
Formation and Stability of Prebiotically Relevant Vesicular Systems in Terrestrial Geothermal Environments
Next Article in Special Issue
Potential Role of Inorganic Confined Environments in Prebiotic Phosphorylation
Previous Article in Journal
What Does “the RNA World” Mean to “the Origin of Life”?
Previous Article in Special Issue
Chemical Transformations in Proto-Cytoplasmic Media. Phosphorus Coupling in the Silica Hydrogel Phase
Open AccessArticle

Effects of Trimetaphosphate on Abiotic Formation and Hydrolysis of Peptides

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 330 N. Orchard Street, Madison, WI 53715, USA
Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 777 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 October 2017 / Revised: 16 November 2017 / Accepted: 28 November 2017 / Published: 30 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phosphorus (P) and the Origins of Life)
The primordial Earth probably had most of the factors needed for the emergence and development of life. It is believed that it had not only water, but also simple inorganic and organic materials. While studies since the 1950s on the origins of organic matter have established key roles for amino acids, conditions that would have promoted their condensation to make polymers, such as peptides or proteins, have yet to be fully defined. The condensation of amino acids in a water-rich environment is not thermodynamically favored. Therefore, the efficient formation of peptides requires the presence of a catalyst or the activation of a substrate. In living cells, the biosynthesis of proteins is assisted by enzymes and requires adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a relatively complex organic polyphosphate, which serves as an energy source. Outside the living organism, simpler inorganic polyphosphates can form active aminoacyl–phosphate anhydrides, which suggests the broader potential of phosphorus for enabling the polymerization of amino acids. However, this has yet to be demonstrated. To address this gap, aqueous solutions containing a simple dipeptide, diglycine, and a simple polyphosphate, trimetaphosphate, were dried, and reaction products were analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS). Different reaction environments, which were defined by the initial solution composition, pH, temperature, and incubation time, were found to affect the distribution and yield of products. Our results collectively provide strong evidence for reactions that both condense and hydrolyze peptides. It is noteworthy that the co-occurrence of reactions that form and cleave peptides are a central feature of Kauffman’s theory for the emergence of autocatalytic sets, which is a key step in the chemical origins of life. View Full-Text
Keywords: diglycine; drying; condensation; emergence; activation; N-phosphorylation; environment; HPLC; mass spectrometry diglycine; drying; condensation; emergence; activation; N-phosphorylation; environment; HPLC; mass spectrometry
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

MDPI and ACS Style

Sibilska, I.K.; Chen, B.; Li, L.; Yin, J. Effects of Trimetaphosphate on Abiotic Formation and Hydrolysis of Peptides. Life 2017, 7, 50.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

Search more from Scilit
Back to TopTop