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Physicochemical Processes That Probably Originated Life

Abstract

The material and energetic resources for the abiotic syntheses of substances, which provide the formation of prebiological structures have been analyzed. It has been shown that one-carbon compounds including formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide could be the main starting substances. Volcanic activity and photochemical action of solar UV rays are considered as possible energetic resources. Amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleotides had been synthesized by reactions between starting substances and photoreduction of their products in a sulfur-containing environment. The wetting/drying cycles in water pools promoted the polymerization of monomers (amino acids and nucleotides). Among the resulting oligonucleotides, ribozymes could occur, some of which could catalyze the processes of elongation of oligonucleotides. The extended RNA-like structures acquired new functions including the ability to catalyze the replication of RNA. The lipid-like peptides and fatty acids performed the role of the primitive membranes, thus forming protocells. Details of the described processes have been discussed.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author thanks Professors David Deamer, Ramanarayanan Krishnamurty, Koji Tamura, and Dr. Paul Rimmer for their fruitful discussion of some of the issues outlined in this review and for providing the necessary literature sources.

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Translated by A. Levina

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Kovalenko, S.P. Physicochemical Processes That Probably Originated Life. Russ J Bioorg Chem 46, 675–691 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1134/S1068162020040093

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Keywords:

  • photoreduction
  • serpentinization
  • wetting/drying
  • hydrolysis
  • polymerization
  • condensing agents
  • RNA
  • replication
  • catalysts
  • ribozymes
  • protocells