Early life relict feature in peptide mass distribution
The molecular mass of a biomolecule is characterized by the monoisitopic mass Mmono and the average isotopic mass Mav. We found that tryptic peptide masses mapped on a plane made by two parameters derived from Mmono and Mav form a peculiar feature in the form of a ‘band gap’ stretching across the whole ‘peptide galaxy’, with a narrow line in the centre. The purpose of this study was to investigate possible reasons for the emergence of such a feature, provided it is not a random occurrence. The a priori probability of such a feature to emerge by chance was found to be less than 1:100. Peptides contributing to the central line have elemental compositions following the rules S = 0; Z = C - (N + H)/2 = 0, which nine out of 20 amino acid residues satisfy. The relative abundances of amino acids in the peptides contributing to the central line correlate with the consensus order of emergence of these amino acids, with ancient amino acids being overrepresented in on-Line peptides. Since linear correlation between Mav and Mmono reduces the complexity of polypeptide molecules, and the turnover rate of less complex molecules should be faster in non-equilibrium abiotic synthesis, we hypothesize that the line could be a signature of abiotic production of primordial biopolymers. The linear dependence between the average isotopic masses and monoisotopic masses may have influenced the selection of amino acid residues for terrestrial life.
KeywordsMolecular mass Mass spectrometry Origin of life Abiotic production
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