N-Carbamoyl Amino Acid Solid–Gas Nitrosation by NO/NO x : A New Route to Oligopeptides via α-Amino Acid N-Carboxyanhydride. Prebiotic Implications
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α-N-Carbamoyl amino acid (CAA), whose conditions of formation in a prebiotic hydrosphere have been described previously (Taillades et al. 1998), could have been an important intermediate in prebiotic peptide synthesis through reaction with atmospheric NO x . Nitrosation of solid CAA (glycine or valine derivative) by a 4/1 NO/O2 gaseous mixture (1 atm) yields N-carboxyanhydride (NCA) quantitatively in less than 1 h at room temperature. The crude solid NCA undergoes quantitative oligomerization (from trimer to nonamer under the conditions we used) when treated with a (bi)carbonate aqueous buffer at pH 9. We therefore suggest that part of the prebiotic amino acid activation/polymerization process may have taken place in a dry phase (``drying-lagoon'' scenario).
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