Condensation and Decomposition of Nucleotides in Simulated Hydrothermal Fields
This chapter describes recent studies in which nucleic acid oligomers are synthesized in simulated hydrothermal field conditions using cycles of dehydration and rehydration to promote ester bond synthesis. Such conditions involve elevated temperatures and acidic pH ranges that are also conducive to depurination of nucleotides. For this reason it is important to establish the extent to which depurination occurs and whether this limits yields of oligomers. Here we review condensation reactions that occur in mixtures of AMP and UMP undergoing multiple dehydration cycles in acidic conditions, and report new results related to depurination under the same conditions. Although depurination could be detected, the reaction was inhibited by the presence of a phospholipid. Furthermore, a fraction of the original AMP remains in subsequent cycles, suggesting that depurination does not proceed to completion. We conclude that even though decomposition of mononucleotides occurs in hydrothermal cycling, purine nucleotides will continue to be available to participate in polymerization.
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