Asymmetric Photoreactions as the Origin of Biomolecular Homochirality: A Critical Review
- Cite this article as:
- Jorissen, A. & Cerf, C. Orig Life Evol Biosph (2002) 32: 129. doi:10.1023/A:1016087202273
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The role of asymmetric photoreactions (occurringin space or on the primitive Earth) in the origin of biomolecularhomochirality is critically reviewed. A general description of thevarious possible ways for light to interact with chiral moleculesis first presented on the basis of a series expansion of thedielectric constant: natural, magnetic and magnetochiral circulardichroism are identified with the first three terms in thisdevelopment. Natural and magnetochiral circular dichroismmay cause, through asymmetric photolysis, an enantiomeric excessin a racemic mixture of chiral molecules irradiated, respectively,by circularly polarized ultraviolet light, or by unpolarizedultraviolet light in the presence of a magnetic fieldnon-perpendicular to the light beam. Terrestrial and extraterrestrialsites matching these conditions are then critically reviewed.Finally, we stress the possibility to arrive at the homochiralityof amino acids through a path involving D-ribose during RNA worldas an alternative to the usual scenarios operating directly onamino acids.