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Astrobiology

Peptide Bond Formation in Water Mediated by Carbon Disulfide.


PMID 26308392

Abstract

Demonstrating plausible nonenzymatic polymerization mechanisms for prebiotic monomers represents a fundamental goal in prebiotic chemistry. While a great deal is now known about the potentially prebiotic synthesis of amino acids, our understanding of abiogenic polymerization processes to form polypeptides is less well developed. Here, we show that carbon disulfide (CS2), a component of volcanic emission and sulfide mineral weathering, and a widely used synthetic reagent and solvent, promotes peptide bond formation in modest yields (up to ∼20%) from α-amino acids under mild aqueous conditions. Exposure of a variety of α-amino acids to CS2 initially yields aminoacyl dithiocarbamates, which in turn generate reactive 2-thiono-5-oxazolidone intermediates, the thio analogues of N-carboxyanhydrides. Along with peptides, thiourea and thiohydantoin species are produced. Amino acid stereochemistry was preserved in the formation of peptides. Our findings reveal that CS2 could contribute to peptide bond formation, and possibly other condensation reactions, in abiogenic settings.

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424641
Carbon disulfide, ReagentPlus®, purified by redistillation, ≥99.9%
CS2