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