, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 293-311

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

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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.

Chemical Evolution XXX. For the previous paper see J.P. Ferris, P.C. Joshi and J.G. Lawless, Biosystems,9, 81 (1977)