Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 293–311

HCN: A plausible source of purines, pyrimidines and amino acids on the primitive earth

Authors

  • J. P. Ferris
    • Department of ChemistryRensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • P. C. Joshi
    • Department of ChemistryRensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • E. H. Edelson
    • Department of ChemistryRensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • J. G. Lawless
    • NASA Ames Research Center
Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF01733839

Cite this article as:
Ferris, J.P., Joshi, P.C., Edelson, E.H. et al. J Mol Evol (1978) 11: 293. doi:10.1007/BF01733839

Summary

Dilute (0.1M) solutions of HCN condense to oligomers at pH 9.2. Hydrolysis of these oligomers yields 4,5-dihydroxypyrimidine, orotic acid, 5-hydroxyuracil, adenine, 4-aminoimidazole-5-carboxamide and amino acids. These results, together with the earlier data, demonstrate that the three main classes of nitrogen-containing biomolecules, purines, pyrimidines and amino acids may have originated from HCN on the primitive earth. The observation of orotic acid and 4-aminoimidazole-5-carboxamide suggests that the contemporary biosynthetic pathways for nucleotides may have evolved from the compounds released on hydrolysis of HCN oligomers.

Key words

HCNCyanideHCN oligomers4,5-DihydroxypyrimidineOrotic Acid5-HydroxyuracilAdenine4-Aminoimidazole-5-carboxamidePrebioticPrimitive earth

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978