, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 35-46

Primordial Coding of Amino Acids by Adsorbed Purine Bases

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Scanning tunneling microscopy and chromatography experiments exploring the potential templating properties of nucleic acid bases adsorbed to the surface of crystalline graphite, revealed that the interactions of amino acids with the bare crystal surface are significantly modulated by the prior adsorption of adenine and hypoxanthine. These bases are the coding elements of a putative purine-only genetic alphabet and the observed effects are different for each of the bases. Such mapping between bases and amino acids provides a coding mechanism. These observations demonstrate that a simple pre-RNA amino acid discrimination mechanism could have existed on the prebiotic Earth providing critical functionality for the origin of life.