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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2006 Jan 16;45(4):554-69.

Serine octamers: cluster formation, reactions, and implications for biomolecule homochirality.

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Purdue University, Department of Chemistry, 560 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


The emergence of homochirality continues to be one of the most challenging topics associated with the origin of life. One possible scenario is that aggregates of amino acids might have been involved in a sequence of chemical events that led to chiral biomolecules in self-replicating systems, that is, to homochirogenesis. Serine is the amino acid of principal interest, since it forms "magic-number" ionic clusters composed of eight amino acid units, and the clusters have a remarkable preference for homochirality. These serine octamer clusters (Ser8) can be generated under simulated prebiotic conditions and react selectively with other biomolecules. These observations led to the hypothesis that serine reactions were responsible for the first chiral selection in nature which was then passed through chemical reactions to other amino acids, saccharides, and peptides. This Review evaluates the chemistry of Ser8 clusters and the experimental evidence that supports their possible role in homochirogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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