PREBIOTIC CHEMISTRY

From soup to peptides

Proteins are biosynthesized from α-amino acids using hefty biological machinery, but the origin of this process on the early Earth is unclear. Now, a bottom-up approach for forming peptides, taking place under mild, prebiotically-plausible conditions, has been developed. This strategy uses α-aminonitrile precursors, bypassing α-amino acids entirely.

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Fig. 1: Gentle, prebiotically plausible peptide ligation using α-aminonitriles.

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Correspondence to Robert Pascal or Irene A. Chen.

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