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Biochimie. 2012 Jul;94(7):1451-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2012.02.018. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

From the one-carbon amide formamide to RNA all the steps are prebiotically possible.

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Dipartimento di Agrobiologia ed Agrochimica, Università della Tuscia, Via San Camillo De Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.


Formamide provides the raw material and the reaction leads connecting hydrogen cyanide HCN chemistry with higher complexity molecular structures. Formamide is liquid between 4 and 210 °C and, upon heating in the presence of one of several catalysts, affords nucleic bases, acyclonucleosides, carboxylic acids and aminoacids. In formamide in the presence of a source of phosphate, nucleosides are non-fastidiously phosphorylated in every position of the sugar residue, also yielding cyclic nucleotides. Guanine 3',5' cyclic nucleotide monophosphates polymerize to oligonucleotides, up to 30 nucleotides long. Adenine 3',5' cyclic nucleotide monophosphate reacts similarly but less efficiently. Preformed oligonucleotides may undergo terminal ligation in the absence of enzymes, thus allowing the formation of abiotically obtained long RNA chains.

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