Carbohydrate research

Stabilization of ribofuranose by a mineral surface.

PMID 25498026


The existence of the ribose moiety in biomolecules poses two problems for prebiotic chemistry. First, the exclusive presence of the furanose isomer in RNA has to be accounted for since furanose is a minor form in solution and does not exist in crystals. Second, all D-ribose polymorphs are unstable in aqueous medium so that a stabilization mechanism has to be invoked. We observed that the adsorption on mineral surfaces as amorphous silica protects the sugar from degradation processes. Moreover, this silica surface, used as realistic chert model, is able to increase significantly the proportion of ribofuranose compared to ribopyranose forms. The interaction between surface and sugar was analyzed by 13C NMR. Our results show a very significant chemical and thermal stabilization of the adsorbed sugar by a silica surface and an almost twofold increase of ribofuranose compared to ribose in solution.