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Insights into Abiotically-Generated Amino Acid Enantiomeric Excesses Found in Meteorites

1
Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058, USA
2
GeoControl Systems, Jacobs JETS contract, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 9 May 2018 / Accepted: 10 May 2018 / Published: 12 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meteorites and the Origin of Life)
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Abstract

Biology exhibits homochirality, in that only one of two possible molecular configurations (called enantiomers) is used in both proteins and nucleic acids. The origin of this phenomenon is currently unknown, as nearly all known abiotic mechanisms for generating these compounds result in equal (racemic) mixtures of both enantiomers. However, analyses of primitive meteorites have revealed that a number of amino acids of extraterrestrial origin are present in enantiomeric excess, suggesting that there was an abiotic route to synthesize amino acids in a non-racemic manner. Here we review the amino acid contents of a range of meteorites, describe mechanisms for amino acid formation and their potential to produce amino acid enantiomeric excesses, and identify processes that could have amplified enantiomeric excesses. View Full-Text
Keywords: amino acids; chirality; meteorites; homochirality; enantiomer; prebiotic chemistry amino acids; chirality; meteorites; homochirality; enantiomer; prebiotic chemistry
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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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Burton, A.S.; Berger, E.L. Insights into Abiotically-Generated Amino Acid Enantiomeric Excesses Found in Meteorites. Life 2018, 8, 14.

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