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Thread: ATP Activates Prebiotic Peptide Synthesis

  1. #1
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    ATP Activates Prebiotic Peptide Synthesis

    From R&D magazine

    Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison are devising chemical reactions that mimic early Earth in an effort to learn about how life ultimately developed, as well as to unlock new capabilities for modern medicine.

    ...

    The researchers focused on two different amino acids—alanine and glycine—mixed with an energy molecule called triphosphate. All three molecules are believed to be available on early Earth.

    The researchers cooked together the three ingredients over a range of different temperatures and variously acidic conditions. The amino acids only joined together under the hottest and most harsh conditions in the mixtures without triphosphate. With triphosphate present, short chains of alanine and glycine formed at the more moderate conditions.

    “Triphosphate facilitates reactions in conditions where most life is found to occur,” Yin said.
    The paper

    Abstract:
    The biochemical activation of amino acids by adenosine triphosphate (ATP) drives the synthesis of proteins that are essential for all life. On the early Earth, before the emergence of cellular life, the chemical condensation of amino acids to form prebiotic peptides or proteins may have been activated by inorganic polyphosphates, such as tri metaphosphate (TP). Plausible volcanic and other potential sources of TP are known, and TP readily activates amino acids for peptide synthesis. But de novo peptide synthesis also depends on pH, temperature, and processes of solvent drying, which together define a varied range of potential activating conditions. Although we cannot replay the tape of life on Earth, we can examine how activator, temperature, acidity and other conditions may have collectively shaped its prebiotic evolution. Here, reactions of two simple amino acids, glycine and alanine, were tested, with or without TP, over a wide range of temperature (0–100 °C) and acidity (pH 1–12), while open to the atmosphere. After 24 h, products were analyzed by HPLC and mass spectrometry. In the absence of TP, glycine and alanine readily formed peptides under harsh near-boiling temperatures, extremes of pH, and within dry solid residues. In the presence of TP, however, peptides arose over a much wider range of conditions, including ambient temperature, neutral pH, and in water. These results show how polyphosphates such as TP may have enabled the transition of peptide synthesis from harsh to mild early Earth environments, setting the stage for the emergence of more complex prebiotic chemistries.
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  2. #2
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    Thanks for the references, Swift, it's interesting work, but your title seems to miss part of the point. The 2nd sentence of the abstract says:

    chemical condensation of amino acids to form prebiotic peptides or proteins may have been activated by inorganic polyphosphates, such as tri metaphosphate (TP). [Emphasis added.]
    ATP and TP are two different things, because ATP is an organic polyphosphate.
    Last edited by Colin Robinson; 2018-Dec-02 at 09:55 PM.

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