Next Article in Journal
Limited Sequence Diversity Within a Population Supports Prebiotic RNA Reproduction
Next Article in Special Issue
The Origin of Prebiotic Information System in the Peptide/RNA World: A Simulation Model of the Evolution of Translation and the Genetic Code
Previous Article in Journal
Single-Frame, Multiple-Frame and Framing Motifs in Genes
Previous Article in Special Issue
Low-Digit and High-Digit Polymers in the Origin of Life
Open AccessHypothesis

Making Molecules with Clay: Layered Double Hydroxides, Pentopyranose Nucleic Acids and the Origin of Life

Department of Chemistry, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56 Dunedin, New Zealand
Received: 2 December 2018 / Revised: 4 February 2019 / Accepted: 9 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
A mixture of sugar diphosphates is produced in reactions between small aldehyde phosphates catalysed by layered double hydroxide (LDH) clays under plausibly prebiotic conditions. A subset of these, pentose diphosphates, constitute the backbone subunits of nucleic acids capable of base pairing, which is not the case for the other products of these LDH-catalysed reactions. Not only that, but to date no other polymer found capable of base pairing—and therefore information transfer—has a backbone for which its monomer subunits have a plausible prebiotic synthesis, including the ribose-5-phosphate backbone subunit of RNA. Pentose diphosphates comprise the backbone monomers of pentopyranose nucleic acids, some of the strongest base pairing systems so far discovered. We have previously proposed that the first base pairing interactions were between purine nucleobase precursors, and that these were weaker and less specific than standard purine-pyrimidine interactions. We now propose that the inherently stronger pairing of pentopyranose nucleic acids would have compensated for these weaker interactions, and produced an informational polymer capable of undergoing nonenzymatic replication. LDH clays might also have catalysed the synthesis of the purine nucleobase precursors, and the polymerization of pentopyranose nucleotide monomers into oligonucleotides, as well as the formation of the first lipid bilayers. View Full-Text
Keywords: origin of life; layered double hydroxide (LDH) clay; pentose diphosphate; pentopyranose nucleic acid; arabinopyranose nucleic acid; RNA; base pairing; purine precursor; inosine; AICAR origin of life; layered double hydroxide (LDH) clay; pentose diphosphate; pentopyranose nucleic acid; arabinopyranose nucleic acid; RNA; base pairing; purine precursor; inosine; AICAR
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Bernhardt, H.S. Making Molecules with Clay: Layered Double Hydroxides, Pentopyranose Nucleic Acids and the Origin of Life. Life 2019, 9, 19.

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

1
Back to TopTop