Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere : the journal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life

The investigation of the HCN derivative diiminosuccinonitrile as a prebiotic condensing agent. The formation of phosphate esters.

PMID 11541969


Diiminosuccinonitrile (DISN) is formed readily by the Fe3+ oxidation of diaminomaleonitrile, a tetramer of HCN. DISN effects the phosphorylation of uridine in 13% yield to a mixture of the isomers of UMP when the reaction is performed in dimethylformamide solution. A 4% yield of the UMP isomers is obtained in neutral aqueous solution using 2 times the DISN concentration and 7 times the phosphate concentration used in DMF. DISN did not effect the conversion of adenosine to AMP or 5'-AMP to 5'-ADP in aqueous solution. The cyclization of 3'-AMP and 3'-UMP to the corresponding 2'-3'-cyclic phosphates proceeds in yields as high as 40-50% at 60 degrees C in pH 6 aqueous solutions in the presence of divalent metal ions. Lower yields of the cyclic phosphate are observed when 2'-AMP is the starting material. Substitution of acetate buffer for imidazole buffer results in a decrease in the yield of cyclic phosphate, the extent of which depends on the metal ion used in the reaction. No 3'5'-cyclic AMP was detected as a reaction product with either 5'-AMP or 3'-AMP as the starting material except for a 2.4% yield from 3'-AMP in the presence of Zn2+. BrCN effects the conversion of 3'-AMP to the 2'-3'-cyclic AMP in 37-65% yield depending on the divalent cation used as catalyst. A mechanism has been proposed for these cyclization reactions and their potential significance to the prebiotic synthesis of ribonucleic acid derivatives is discussed.

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Diaminomaleonitrile, 98%