Origin of Life

pp 393-397

Histidyl-Histidine Catalysis of Glycine Condensation in Fluctuating Clay Environments

  • David H. WhiteAffiliated withChemistry Department, University of Santa Clara
  • , Jeffrey C. EricksonAffiliated withChemistry Department, University of Santa Clara

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Histidyl-histidine is a remarkably effective catalyst of peptide bond formation in the reaction of glycine in a fluctuating (hot-dry, cold-wet) clay environment. It has shown turnover numbers (niolecules of glycine incorporated in oligoglycines per molecule of catalyst) as high as 18 in a single cycle and as high as 52 overall. A number of other dipeptides were tested, as well as monomeric histidine, N-acetyl histidine, and imidazole, none of which showed turnover numbers greater than one. Histidyl-histidine is a model for a prebiotic protoenzyme, and implications for the development of a simple translation mechanism are discussed.