ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201903.0098.v1
Subject: Chemistry, Organic Chemistry Keywords: Prebiotic chemistry, Late Heavy Bombardment, Hadean Eon, carbonaceous chondrites, primitive terrestrial atmosphere, viroids
Online: 7 March 2019 (13:54:30 CET)
Geochemists disagree whether or not prebiotic chemistry has existed already during the Hadean Eon and whether the then terrestrial atmosphere has been strongly or weakly reduced. Here I argue that cellular life has existed already just after the end of the Hadean Eon and that terrestrial life has survived a number of cataclysms during the Earth's history. I argue that although organic molecules have been detected in meteorites that most organic molecules required for the formation of macromolecules must have been formed on Earth. Finally, I argue that the primitive terrestrial atmosphere during the Hadean Eon has been weakly reduced, so that amino acids and small nucleic acids could have been formed. I suggest that the first self-replicable macromolecules have been similar to viroids.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201612.0089.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Other Keywords: origin of life; selection; accumulation; prebiotic chemistry; molecular evolution; vesicles
Online: 16 December 2016 (08:46:10 CET)
A basic problem in all postulated pathways of prebiotic chemistry is the low concentration which generally is expected for interesting reactants in fluid environments. Even though compounds like nucleobases, sugars or peptides principally may form spontaneously under environmental conditions, they will always be rapidly diluted in an aqueous environment. In addition, any such reaction leads to side products which often exceed the desired compound and generally hamper the first steps of a subsequent molecular evolution. Therefore, a mechanism of selection and accumulation of relevant prebiotic compounds seems to be crucial for molecular evolution. A very efficient environment for selection and accumulation can be found in the fluid continuum circulating in tectonic fault zones. Vesicles which form spontaneously at a depth of approximately 1 km present a selective trap for amphiphilic molecules, especially for peptides composed of hydrophilic and hydrophobic amino acids in a suitable sequence. The accumulation effect is shown in a numeric simulation on a simplified model. Further, possible mechanisms of a molecular evolution in vesicle membranes are discussed. Altogether, the proposed scenario can be seen as an ideal environment for constant, undisturbed molecular evolution in and on cell-like compartments, the latter offering preferential starting conditions for a subsequent RNA world.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201904.0250.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Molecular Biology Keywords: prebiotic chemistry; protein synthesis; hairpin RNA
Online: 22 April 2019 (12:11:21 CEST)
A model of the early RNA world is proposed. Nearly self-complementary sequences that could adopt double-stranded, smallhairpin-like (shRNA), structures would be selected for due to their greater hydrolytic stability. These would be phosphorylated attheir 5' ends. We suppose that dehydrating conditions arise (perhaps intermittently) in the early environment allowing amino acidsto condense with these RNA molecules. The resulting phosphate-amino acid anhydrides would play the role of early, charged,tRNAs. A crude genetic code could emerge owing to the greater resistance of some amino acid-shRNA pairings to hydrolysisrelative to others. Early on there is no division of labor between mRNAs and tRNAs; the same molecules perform both functions.But the first systems would have encoded little in the way of protein sequence information. Rather they would have served as catalysts for the random polymerization of amino acids. It is speculated that the selective advantage inhering in such systems lay intheir ability to supply raw materials for the formation of coacervates within which the various molecules essential to proto-lifecould be concentrated. This would greatly facilitate the necessary chemistries. The evolution of homochiral protein and RNA populations is discussed. An appealing feature of this model is its ability to explain the transition from phosphorylated amino acids to the 3' ester-linked aminoacyl-tRNAs employed by modern life.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201808.0055.v1
Subject: Chemistry, Physical Chemistry Keywords: sonochemistry; cavitation chemistry; biomolecules; prebiotic chemistry
Online: 3 August 2018 (00:03:12 CEST)
This review considers the generation of relatively simple biomolecules, e.g., primary amino acids, resulting from the rapid collapse of bubbles in aqueous solutions containing various, low molar mass, gases. Some of the possible primary reactions occurring to produce the biomolecules are introduced and discussed. A brief discussion is included on the possible involvement of hydrodynamic cavitation, at the primordial seashore, as the initiating processes for the formation of the first organic molecules on prebiotic earth and the origins of life on Earth some 4 billion years ago.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201710.0171.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Nutrition Keywords: prebiotic; microbiota; fermentation; dietary fiber; microbiome
Online: 27 October 2017 (15:33:12 CEST)
Prebiotic dietary fiber supplements are commonly consumed to help meet fiber recommendations and improve gastrointestinal health by stimulating beneficial bacteria and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), molecules beneficial to host health. The objective of this research project was to compare potential prebiotic effects and fermentability of five commonly consumed fibers using an in vitro fermentation system measuring changes in fecal microbiota, total gas production and formation of common SCFAs. Fecal donations were collected from three healthy volunteers. Materials analyzed included: pure beta-glucan, Oatwell (commercially available oat-bran containing 22% oat β-glucan), xylooligosaccharides (XOS), WholeFiber (dried chicory root containing inulin, pectin, and hemi/celluloses), and pure inulin. Oatwell had the highest production of propionate at 12 h (4.76 μmol/mL) compared to inulin, WholeFiber and XOS samples (p<0.03). Oatwell’s effect was similar to those of the pure beta-glucan samples, both samples promoted the highest mean propionate production at 24 h. XOS resulted in a significant increase in the genus Bifidobacterium after 24 h of fermentation (0 h: 0.67 OTUs; 24 h: 5.22 OTUs; p = 0.038). Inulin and WholeFiber increased the beneficial genus Collinsella, consistent with findings in clinical studies. All analyzed compounds were fermentable and promoted the formation of beneficial SCFAs.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202001.0035.v1
Subject: Physical Sciences, Condensed Matter Physics Keywords: self-propulsion; self-organization; polymerization; prebiotic molecules
Online: 5 January 2020 (14:39:19 CET)
Self-assembly is a spontaneous process through which macroscopic structures are formed from basic microscopic constituents (e.g. molecules or colloids). By contrast, the formation of large biological molecules inside the cell (such as proteins or nucleic acids) is a process more akin to self-organization than to self-assembly, as it requires a constant supply of external energy. Recent studies have tried to merge self-assembly with self-organization by analyzing the assembly of self-propelled (or active) colloid-like particles whose motion is driven by a permanent source of energy. Here we present evidence that points to the fact that self-propulsion considerably enhances the assembly of polymers: self-propelled molecules are found to assemble into polymer-like structures, the average length of which increases towards a maximum as the self-propulsion force increases. Beyond this maximum, the average polymer length decreases due to the competition between bonding energy and disruptive forces that result from collisions. The assembly of active molecules might have promoted the formation of large pre-biotic polymers that could be the precursors of the informational polymers we observe nowadays.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202110.0234.v1
Subject: Biology, Physiology Keywords: economics; ATP; energy budget; cellular activity; ageing; prebiotic
Online: 15 October 2021 (17:04:45 CEST)
Ramsey’s economic theory of saving (RTS) estimates how much of its commodities a nation should save to safeguard the well-being of future generations. Since RTS retains many attractive qualities such as simplicity, strength, breadth and generality, here we ask if it would be useful to investigate biophysical issues. Specifically, we focus on a biological topic that lends itself as a backdrop for the study of the imbalance between intake and expenditure, i.e., the evaluation of the multicellular living organisms’ energetic requirements and constraints. Our problem is to find at each time the optimum distribution and the right balance of the cellular energy budget between consumption and storage: how much must a living organism spare to increase its chances of survival over long periods? Suggesting how to find the optimum allocation of the available energy between expenditure and saving at each time, RTS approaches to biological energy budgets may have a wide range of experimental applications, such as: a) optimization of the long-term survival chances of either immortalized cell cultures, or beneficial bacterial colonies and exogenous probiotic mixtures; b) eradication of detrimental biofilms, such as, e.g., heart valves’ Streptococcus colonies; c) novel anti-stress and anti-ageing strategies.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202106.0339.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: microbiota; microbiome; manipulation; fiber; diet; prebiotic; nutrition; supplement
Online: 14 June 2021 (09:19:54 CEST)
Consumption of prebiotic fibers to modulate the human gut microbiome is a promising strategy to positively impact health. Nevertheless, given the compositional complexity of the microbiome and its inter-individual variances, generalized recommendations on the source or amount of fiber supplements remain vague. This problem is further compounded by availability of tractable in vitro and in vivo models to validate certain fibers. We employed a gnotobiotic mouse model containing an a priori characterized 14-member synthetic human gut microbiome (SM) for their ability to metabolize a suit of fibers in vitro; the SM contains 14 different strains belonging to five distinct phyla. Since soluble purified fibers have been a common subject of studies, we specifically investigated the effects of concentrated raw fibers (CRFs)—containing fibers from pea, oat, psyllium, wheat and apple—on the compositional and functional alterations in the SM. We demonstrate that, compared to a fiber-free diet, CRF supplementation increased the abundance of fiber-degraders namely Eubacterium rectale, Roseburia intestinalis and Bacteroides ovatus and decreased the abundance of the mucin-degrader Akkermansia muciniphila. These results were corroborated by a general increase of bacterial fiber-degrading α-glucosidase enzyme activity. Overall, our results highlight the ability of CRFs to enhance the microbial fiber-degrading capacity.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202101.0259.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Allergology Keywords: diabetes; microbiota; yogurt; milk; dairy; probiotic; prebiotic; synbiotic
Online: 13 January 2021 (17:23:07 CET)
The prevalence of type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) is increasing worldwide and there are no long-term preventive strategies to stop this growth. Emerging research shows that perturbations in the gut microbiome significantly contribute to the development of T2D, while microbiome modulators may be beneficial for T2D prevention. However, microbiome modulators that are effective, safe, affordable, and able to be integrated daily in the diet are not yet available. Based on our previous pro- and prebiotic studies, we developed a novel synbiotic yogurt comprised of human-origin probiotics and plant-based prebiotics and investigated its impact on diet- and streptozotocin-induced T2D in mice. We compared the effects of our synbiotic yogurt to those of a commercially-available yogurt (control yogurt). Interestingly, we found that feeding of this synbiotic yogurt significantly reduced the development of hyperglycemia (diabetes) in response to high-fat diet feeding and streptozotocin compared to milk-fed controls. Surprisingly, the control yogurt exacerbated diabetes progression. Synbiotic yogurt beneficially modulated the composition of gut microbiota compared to milk; conversely, the control yogurt negatively modulated the gut microbiota by significantly increasing the abundance of detrimental bacteria like Proteobacteria and Enterobacteriaceae. In addition, the synbiotic yogurt protected intact pancreatic islet morphology compared to the milk control, while the commercial yogurt demonstrated worse effects on pancreatic physiology. These results suggest that our newly developed synbiotic yogurt protects against diabetes in mice and can be used as a modality to prevent diabetes progression.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0241.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Gastroenterology Keywords: prebiotic; oligosaccharides; gut microbiota; fatty liver; metabolism; mitochondria
Online: 11 September 2020 (04:17:52 CEST)
Understanding the importance of gut microbiota (GM) in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has raised the hope for therapeutic microbes. We have shown that high hepatic fat associated with low abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in humans and further, administration of F. prausnitzii prevented NAFLD in mice. Here, we aimed to target F. prausnitzii by prebiotic xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) to treat NAFLD. First, the effect of XOS on F. prausnitzii growth was assessed in vitro. Then, XOS was supplemented or not with high (HFD) or low (LFD) fat-diet for 12-weeks in Wistar rats (n=10/group). XOS increased F. prausnitzii growth having only minor impact on the GM composition. When supplemented with HFD, XOS prevented hepatic steatosis. The underlying mechanisms involved enhanced hepatic β-oxidation and mitochondrial respiration. 1H-NMR analysis of caecal metabolites showed that compared to HFD, LFD group had healthier caecal short-chain fatty acid profile and the combination of HFD and XOS was associated with reduced caecal isovalerate and tyrosine, metabolites previously linked to NAFLD. Caecal branched-chain fatty acids associated positively and butyrate negatively with hepatic triglycerides. In conclusion, our study identifies F. prausnitzii as a possible target to treat NAFLD with XOS. The underlying preventive mechanisms involved improved hepatic oxidative metabolism.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202003.0005.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: D-amino acids; homochirality; prebiotic chemistry; molecular modeling
Online: 1 March 2020 (03:10:24 CET)
On the primitive Earth, both L- and D-amino acids would have been present. However, only L-amino acids are essential blocks to construct proteins in modern life. To study the relative stability of homochiral and heterochiral peptides, a variety of computational methods were employed. 10 prebiotic amino acids (Gly, Ala, Asp, Glu, Ile, Leu, Pro, Ser, Thr, and Val) were previously determined by multiple previous meteorite, spark discharge, and hydrothermal vent studies. We focused on what had been reported as primary early Earth polypeptide analogs: 1ARK, 1PPT, 1ZFI, and 2LZE. Tripeptide composed of only Asp, Ser, and Val exemplified that different positions (i.e., N-terminus, C-terminus, and middle) made a difference in minimal folding energy of peptides, while the classification of amino acid (hydrophobic, acidic, or hydroxylic) did not show significant difference. Hierarchical cluster analysis for dipeptides with all possible combinations of the proposed 10 prebiotic amino acids and their D-amino acid substituted derivatives generated five clusters. Prebiotic polypeptides were built up to test the significance of molecular fluctuations, secondary structure occupancies, and folding energy differences based on these clusters. Most interestingly, among 129 residues, mutation sensitivity profiles presented that the ratio of more stable to less stable to equally stable D-amino acids was about 1:1:1. In conclusion, some combinations of a mixture of L- and D-amino acids can act as essential building blocks of life. Peptides with α-helices, long β-sheets, and long loops are usually less sensitive to D-amino acid replacements in comparison to short β-sheets.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202101.0500.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: origin of life; disspative structuring; prebiotic chemistry; abiogenisis; adenine
Online: 25 January 2021 (13:57:05 CET)
I describe the non-equilibrium thermodynamics and the photochemical mechanisms which may have been involved in the dissipative synthesis, proliferation, and evolution of the fundamental molecules at the origin of life from simpler and more common precursor molecules such as HCN, H2O and CO2 under the impressed UVC photon flux of the Archean. The fundamental molecules absorb strongly in this UVC region and exhibit strong coupling between their electronic excited and ground states which endows them with efficient photon disipative capacity (broad wavelength absorption and rapid radiationless dexcitation) suggestive of dissipative structuring. The autocatalytic nature of the synthesized molecules in dissipating the same photochemical potential that directed their synthesis leads to their proliferation. The non-linearity in the photochemical and chemical reaction rates provides numerous stationary states which can be reached by amplification of a molecular concentration fluctuation near a bifurcation, promoting the system into states of generally higher photon disspative efficacy. An example is given of the UV photochemical dissipative structuring, proliferation, and evolution of molecules on route to the nucleobase adenine from the common precursor molecules HCN and H2O occurring within a fatty acid vesicle. The kinetic equations are resolved under different environmental conditions, providing a non-equilibrium thermodynamic analysis of the appearance of an early important molecule for the origin of life.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201709.0040.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Endocrinology & Metabolomics Keywords: Gut microbiota; obesity; insulin resistance, NAFLD; probiotic; prebiotic; symbiotic
Online: 6 October 2017 (16:15:42 CEST)
Gut microbiota play critical roles in development of obese-related metabolic diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance, which highlighted the potential of gut microbiota-targeted therapies on these diseases. There are various ways that can manipulate gut microbiota including probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, antibiotics and some active components from herbal medicines. In this review, we first reviewed the main roles of gut microbiota in mediating the development of NAFLD, and the advances in gut microbiota-targeted therapies on NAFLD in both the experimental and clinical studies, as well as the conclusions on the prospect of gut microbiota-targeted therapies in the future.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201803.0164.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Other Keywords: Origin of life; evolution; molecular evolution; prebiotic chemistry; peptides; vesicles
Online: 19 March 2018 (13:01:33 CET)
Based on a new model of a possible origin of life, we establish an efficient and stable system undergoing structural reproduction, self-optimization and molecular evolution. This system is being formed under realistic conditions by the interaction of two cyclic processes, one of which offering vesicles as the structural environment, the other supplying peptides from a variety of amino acids as versatile building blocks. We demonstrate that structures growing in a combination of both cycles have the potential to support their own existence, to undergo chemical and structural evolution and to develop unpredicted functional properties. The key mechanism is the mutual stabilization of the peptides by the vesicles and of the vesicles by the peptides together with a constant production and selection of both. The development of the proposed system over time not only would represent one of the principles of life, but could also be a model for the formation of self-evolving structures ultimately leading to the first living cell. The experiment yields clear evidence on a vesicle-induced accumulation of membrane-interacting peptide which could be identified by liquid chromatography combined with high-resolution mass spectroscopy. We found that the selected peptide has an immediate effect on the vesicles, leading to i) reduced vesicle size, ii) increased vesicle membrane permeability, and iii) improved thermal vesicle stability.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202206.0030.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: naturally organic boron containing compounds; prebiotic candidate; microbiome; intestinal microflora; symbiosis
Online: 2 June 2022 (09:04:15 CEST)
Boron (B) is considered a prebiotic chemical element with a role in both the origin and evolution of life, as well as an essential micronutrient for plants, some bacteria, fungi, and algae. B has beneficial effects on the biological functions of humans and animals, such as reproduction, growth, calcium metabolism, bone formation, energy metabolism, immunity, brain function, and steroid hormones. In the future, naturally organic B (NOB) species may become promising novel prebiotic candidates. We included the most relevant works about NOB species, starting from our 30-year research experience. NOB-containing compounds have been shown essential for the symbiosis between different kingdoms. New insights into the essentiality of NOB species for healthy symbiosis between the human/animal host and the microbiota will determine the use of natural B-based nutraceuticals to target the colon (colonic foods). The mechanism of action (MoA) of NOB species is related to both the B signaling molecule [autoinducer-2–borate (AI-2B)], as well as the fortification of the colonic mucous gel layer with NOB species from the specific prebiotic boron-rich diet. Therefore, both microbiota and the mucous gel layer of the colon become the NOB species’ target. This paper reviews the evidence supporting the essentiality of the NOB species on the symbiosis between the microbiota and the human/animal host with the stated aim of highlighting the MoA and target of these species.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201704.0168.v1
Subject: Earth Sciences, Geochemistry & Petrology Keywords: prebiotic synthesis; phosphorylation; origin of life; deep eutectic solvents; formamide; mineral catalysis
Online: 26 April 2017 (06:30:50 CEST)
Phosphorylation reactions of glycerol were studied using different inorganic phosphates such as sodium phosphate, trimetaphosphate (a condensed phosphate), and struvite. The reactions were carried out in two non-aqueous solvents: formamide and a eutectic solvent consisting of choline chloride and glycerol in a ratio of 1:2.5. The glycerol reacted in formamide and in the eutectic solvent with phosphate to yield its phosphorylated derivatives in the presence of silicates such as quartz sand and kaolinite clay. The reactions were carried out by heating glycerol with a phosphate source at 85 °C for one week and were analyzed by 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS). The yield of the phosphorylated glycerol was improved by the presence of silicates, and reached 90% in some experiments. Our findings further support the proposal that non-aqueous solvents are advantageous for the prebiotic synthesis of biomolecules, and suggest that silicates may have aided in the formation of organophosphates on the prebiotic earth.
ARTICLE | doi:10.3390/sci1030058
Subject: Keywords: origin of life; prebiotic system; living cell; oscillation; organic molecule; experiment; hydrothermal system
Online: 6 October 2019 (00:00:00 CEST)
It is proposed that the primary living cells (“probionts”) cannot emerge of organic substance simply by continuous chemical complication of prebiotic macromolecules and microsystems. The complication must be accompanied by the radical thermodynamic transformation (“jump”) of prebiotic microsystems that resulted in the acquired ability to extract free energy from the environment and export entropy. This transformation is called “the thermodynamic inversion” The inversion may occur by means of the efficient (intensified) response of the microsystems on the oscillations of physic-chemical parameters in hydrothermal environment. In this case the surplus available free energy within a microsystem, when combined with the informational modality, facilitates its conversion into a new microsystem—a living probiont. It is shown the schematic representation of an oscillating prebiotic microsystem that is transforming into a living probiont. A new kind of laboratory and computational experiments on prebiotic chemistry under oscillating conditions is offered to verify the inversion concept.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202201.0354.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Biophysics Keywords: origin of life; disspative structuring; prebiotic chemistry; abiogenisis; non-equilibrium thermodynamics; thermodynamic dissipation theory
Online: 31 January 2022 (13:13:26 CET)
There is little doubt that life's origin followed from the known physical and chemical laws of Nature. The most general scientific framework incorporating the laws of Nature and applicable to most known processes to good approximation, is that of thermodynamics and its extensions to treat out-of-equilibrium phenomena. The event of the origin of life should therefore also be amenable to such an analysis. In this paper, I describe the non-equilibrium thermodynamic foundations of the origin of life for the non-expert. This ``Thermodynamic Dissipation Theory for the Origin of Life'' is founded on Classical Irreversible Thermodynamic theory developed by Lars Onsager, Ilya Prigogine, and coworkers.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202103.0341.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: prebiotic chemistry; origin of biomolecules; origin of nucleotides; origin of amino acids; origin of life
Online: 12 March 2021 (11:39:50 CET)
The origin of life was a cosmic event happened on primitive Earth. A critical problem to better understand the origins of life in Earth is to glimpse in which chemical scenarios the basic building blocks of biological molecules could be produced. Classic works in pre-biotic chemistry frequently considered early Earth as a homogeneous atmosphere constituted by chemical elements such as methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), water (H2O), hydrogen (H2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Under that scenario, Stanley Miller was capable to produce amino acids and solved the question about the origin of proteins. Conversely, the origin of nucleic acids has tricked scientists for decades as nucleotides are complex though necessary molecules to allow the existence of life. Here we review possible chemical scenarios that allowed not only the formation of nucleotides but also other significant biomolecules. We aim to provide a theoretical solution for the origin of biomolecules at specific sites named “Prebiotic Chemical Refugia”. A prebiotic chemical refugium should therefore be understood as a geographic site in prebiotic Earth on which certain chemical elements were accumulated in higher proportion than expected, facilitating the production of basic biomolecules. Plus, this higher proportion should not be understood as static, but dynamic; once the physicochemical conditions of our planet changed periodically. This different concentration of elements, together with geochemical and astronomical changes along days, synodic months and years provided somewhat periodic changes in temperature, pressure, electromagnetic fields, and conditions of humidity; among other features. Recent and classic works suggesting most likely prebiotic refugia on which the main building blocks of biological molecules might be accumulated are reviewed and discussed.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201809.0188.v1
Subject: Chemistry, Electrochemistry Keywords: origins of life; prebiotic chemistry; mineral catalysis; sulfide minerals; mineral diversity; density functional theory; electrocatalysis
Online: 11 September 2018 (08:39:51 CEST)
Prebiotic organic synthesis reactions catalyzed by Earth-abundant metal sulfides are key processes for understanding the evolution of biochemistry from inorganic molecules, yet the catalytic functions of sulfides have remained poorly explored in the context of the origins of life. Past studies on prebiotic chemistry have mostly focused on a few types of metal sulfide catalysts, such as FeS or NiS, which form limited types of products with inferior activity and selectivity. To explore the potential of metal sulfides on catalyzing prebiotic chemical reactions, here, the chemical diversity (variations in chemical composition and phase structure) of 304 natural metal sulfide minerals in a mineralogy database was surveyed and approaches to rationally predict the catalytic functions of metal sulfides are discussed based on advanced theories and analytical tools of electrocatalysis such as proton-coupled electron transfer, structural comparisons between enzymes and minerals, and in-situ spectroscopy. To this end, we introduce a model of geo-electrochemistry driven prebiotic synthesis for chemical evolution, as it helps us to predict kinetics and selectivity of targeted prebiotic chemistry under “chemically messy conditions”. We expect that combining the data-mining of mineral databases with experimental methods and theories developed in the field of electrocatalysis will facilitate the prediction and verification of catalytic performance under a wide range of pH and Eh conditions, and aid in the rational screening of mineral catalysts involved in the origins of life.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201802.0055.v1
Subject: Chemistry, Inorganic & Nuclear Chemistry Keywords: amidophosphoric acid; diamidophosphate; prebiotic phosphoryl compound; phosphonitrogen glass; enthalpy; Gibbs Free energy; biomimetic nitrogen fixation
Online: 7 February 2018 (05:12:33 CET)
Diamidophosphate has been identified as a possible prebiotic compound used in the precursor membranes of the first ‘life’. Compounds such as these will be helpful in developing novel biomimetic approaches in synthetic chemistry. Thermochemical data for this type of compounds are not available. Hess’ law and estimates from calorimetric measurements used by Wakefield in the 1970s for other amido phosphates have been used to estimate the thermochemical values for the diamido and monoamido-phosphoric acid. Enthalpy of formation at 298.15 oC is calculated as – 821.9 kJ/mol and the free energy of formation calculated as -813.5 kJ/mol for the diamidophosphoric acid. The calculated enthalpy of formation of monoamidic phosphoric acid is -1117.1 kJ/mol and its free energy of formation is - -1105 kJ/mol.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202206.0287.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: origin of life; disspative structuring; non-equilibrium thermodynamics; prebiotic chemistry; abiogenisis; adenine; guanine; hypoxanthine; xanthine; purines
Online: 21 June 2022 (05:14:12 CEST)
We have suggested that the abiogenisis of life around the beginning of the Archean may have been an example of microscopic dissipative structuring of UVC pigments (the fundamental molecules of life) under the prevailing surface UV solar spectrum. In a previous article in this series, we have describe the non-equilibrium thermodynamics and the photochemical mechanisms which may have been involved in the dissipative structuring of the purines adenine and hypoxanthine from the common precursor molecules of HCN and water under UVC light. In this article we extend our analysis to include the production of the other two important purines, guanine and xanthine, from these same precursors. The photochemical reactions are presumed to occur within a fatty acid vesicle floating on a hot ocean surface exposed to the prevailing UV light. Reaction-diffusion equations are resolved under different environmental conditions. Significant amounts of adenine (∼10−5 M) and guanine (∼10−6 M) are obtained within only a few months at 80 °C under plausible initial concentrations of HCN and cyanogen (a photochemical product of HCN).
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201812.0203.v1
Subject: Chemistry, Organic Chemistry Keywords: peptide/RNA world; prebiotic information system; translation and the genetic code; coevolution of translation machine and the genetic code; MVC architecture pattern and biological information; numerical codons; AnyLogic software for computer simulation of translation machine
Online: 17 December 2018 (16:03:16 CET)
Information is the currency of life, but the origin of prebiotic information remains a mystery. We propose transitional pathways from the cosmic building blocks of life to the complex prebiotic organic chemistry that led to the origin of information systems. The prebiotic information system, specifically the genetic code, is segregated, linear, and digital and probably appeared during biogenesis four billion years ago. In the peptide/RNA world, lipid membranes randomly encapsulated amino acids, RNA, and protein molecules, drawn from the prebiotic soup, to initiate a molecular symbiosis inside the protocells. This endosymbiosis led to the hierarchical emergence of several requisite components of the translation machine: tRNAs, aaRS, mRNAs, and ribosomes. When assembled in the right order, the translation machine created biosynthetic polypeptides, a process that transferred information from mRNAs to proteins. This was the beginning of the prebiotic information age. The molecular attraction between tRNA and amino acids led to different stages of the translation machines and the genetic code. tRNA is an ancient molecule that designed and built mRNA for storing the information of its cognate amino acid. Each mRNA strand became the storage device for the genetic information that encoded the amino acid sequences in triplet nucleotides. As information appeared in the digital languages of the codon within mRNA, and the genetic code for protein synthesis evolved, the prebiotic chemistry then became more organized and directional. The origin of the genetic code is enigmatic; herein we propose an evolutionary explanation: the demand for a wide range of specific enzymes in the peptide/RNA world was the main selective pressure for the origin of information-directed protein synthesis. We review three main concepts on the origin and evolution of the genetic code: the stereochemical theory, the coevolution theory, and the adaptive theory. These three theories are compatible with our coevolution model of the translation machines and the genetic code. We suggest biosynthetic pathways as the origin of the specific translation machines which provided the framework for the origin of the genetic code. During translation, the genetic code developed in three stages coincident with the refinement of the translation machines: GNC code developed by the pre-tRNA/pre-aaRS /pre-mRNA machine, SNS code by the tRNA/aaRS/mRNA machine, and finally the universal genetic code by the tRNA/aaRS/mRNA/ribosome machine. Our hypothesis provides the logical and incremental steps for the origin of the programmed protein synthesis. In order to understand the prebiotic information system better, we converted letter codons into numerical codons in the Universal Genetic Code Table. We have developed a software called CATI (Codon-Amino Acid-Translator-Imitator) to translate randomly chosen numerical codons into corresponding amino acids and vice versa. This conversion has granted us insight into how the translation might have worked in the peptide/RNA world. There is great potential in the application of numerical codons to bioinformatics such as barcoding, DNA mining, or DNA fingerprinting. We constructed the likely biochemical pathways for the origin of translation and the genetic code using the Model-View-Controller (MVC) software framework, and the translation machinery step-by-step. Using AnyLogic software we were able to simulate and visualize the entire evolution of the translation machines and the genetic code. The results indicate that the emergence of the information age from the peptide/RNA world was a watershed event in the origin of life about four billion years ago.