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

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.

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

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Ferris, J.P., Joshi, P.C., Edelson, E.H. et al. HCN: A plausible source of purines, pyrimidines and amino acids on the primitive earth. J Mol Evol 11, 293–311 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01733839

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01733839

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