Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Commun. 2017 May 19;8:15270. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15270.

Divergent prebiotic synthesis of pyrimidine and 8-oxo-purine ribonucleotides.

Author information

Department of Chemistry, University College London, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AJ, UK.
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, 12 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
Department of Molecular Biology and Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Understanding prebiotic nucleotide synthesis is a long standing challenge thought to be essential to elucidating the origins of life on Earth. Recently, remarkable progress has been made, but to date all proposed syntheses account separately for the pyrimidine and purine ribonucleotides; no divergent synthesis from common precursors has been proposed. Moreover, the prebiotic syntheses of pyrimidine and purine nucleotides that have been demonstrated operate under mutually incompatible conditions. Here, we tackle this mutual incompatibility by recognizing that the 8-oxo-purines share an underlying generational parity with the pyrimidine nucleotides. We present a divergent synthesis of pyrimidine and 8-oxo-purine nucleotides starting from a common prebiotic precursor that yields the β-ribo-stereochemistry found in the sugar phosphate backbone of biological nucleic acids. The generational relationship between pyrimidine and 8-oxo-purine nucleotides suggests that 8-oxo-purine ribonucleotides may have played a key role in primordial nucleic acids prior to the emergence of the canonical nucleotides of biology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center