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

Polymerization on the rocks: beta-amino acids and arginine.


PMID 9611765

Abstract

We have studied the accumulation of long oligomers of beta-amino acids on the surface of minerals using the 'polymerization on the rocks' protocol. We find that long oligopeptides of beta-glutamic acid which cannot be formed in homogeneous aqueous solution are accumulated efficiently on the surface of hydroxylapatite using 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide (EDAC) as condensing agent. The EDAC-induced oligomerization of aspartic acid on hydroxylapatite proceeds even more efficiently. Hydroxylapatite can also facilitate the ligation of the tripeptide (glu)3. The 'polymerization on the rocks' scenario is not restricted to negatively-charged amino acids. Oligoarginines are accumulated on the surface of illite using carbonyldiimidizole (CDI) as condensing agent. We find that FeS2 catalyzes the CDI-induced oligomerization of arginine, although it does not adsorb oligoarginines. These results are relevant to the formation of polypeptides on the primitive earth.

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