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Formation of Abasic Oligomers in Nonenzymatic Polymerization of Canonical Nucleotides

1
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune 411008, Maharashtra, India
2
ELSI, Tokyo-Tech (Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology), 2-12-1, Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan
3
OIST, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, 1919-1 Tancha, Okinawa 904-0412, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 May 2019 / Revised: 30 June 2019 / Accepted: 1 July 2019 / Published: 4 July 2019
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Abstract

Polymerization of nucleotides under prebiotically plausible conditions has been a focus of several origins of life studies. Non-activated nucleotides have been shown to undergo polymerization under geothermal conditions when subjected to dry-wet cycles. They do so by a mechanism similar to acid-catalyzed ester-bond formation. However, one study showed that the low pH of these reactions resulted in predominantly depurination, thereby resulting in the formation of abasic sites in the oligomers. In this study, we aimed to systematically characterize the nature of the oligomers that resulted in reactions that involved one or more of the canonical ribonucleotides. All the reactions analyzed showed the presence of abasic oligomers, with purine nucleotides being affected the most due to deglycosylation. Even in the reactions that contained nucleotide mixtures, the presence of abasic oligomers was detected, which suggested that information transfer would be severely hampered due to losing the capacity to base pair via H-bonds. Importantly, the stability of the N-glycosidic linkage, under conditions used for dry-wet cycling, was also determined. Results from this study further strengthen the hypothesis that chemical evolution in a pre-RNA World would have been vital for the evolution of informational molecules of an RNA World. This is evident in the high degree of instability displayed by N-glycosidic bonds of canonical purine ribonucleotides under the same geothermal conditions that otherwise readily favors polymerization. Significantly, the resultant product characterization in the reactions concerned underscores the difficulty associated with analyzing complex prebiotically relevant reactions due to inherent limitation of current analytical methods. View Full-Text
Keywords: prebiotic polymerization; nucleotide oligomerization; abasic oligomers; nucleotide stability; stability as a selection pressure; dry-wet cycles prebiotic polymerization; nucleotide oligomerization; abasic oligomers; nucleotide stability; stability as a selection pressure; dry-wet cycles
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Mungi, C.V.; Bapat, N.V.; Hongo, Y.; Rajamani, S. Formation of Abasic Oligomers in Nonenzymatic Polymerization of Canonical Nucleotides. Life 2019, 9, 57.

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