Evaporite Borate-Containing Mineral Ensembles Make Phosphate Available and Regiospecifically Phosphorylate Ribonucleosides: Borate as a Multifaceted Problem Solver in Prebiotic Chemistry

Hyo Joong Kim, Yoshihiro Furukawa, Takeshi Kakegawa, Andrei Bita, Romulus Scorei, Steven A. Benner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

RNA is currently thought to have been the first biopolymer to support Darwinian natural selection on Earth. However, the phosphate esters in RNA and its precursors, and the many sites at which phosphorylation might occur in ribonucleosides under conditions that make it possible, challenge prebiotic chemists. Moreover, free inorganic phosphate may have been scarce on early Earth owing to its sequestration by calcium in the unreactive mineral hydroxyapatite. Herein, it is shown that these problems can be mitigated by a particular geological environment that contains borate, magnesium, sulfate, calcium, and phosphate in evaporite deposits. Actual geological environments, reproduced here, show that Mg2+and borate sequester phosphate from calcium to form the mineral lüneburgite. Ribonucleosides stabilized by borate mobilize borate and phosphate from lüneburgite, and are then regiospecifically phosphorylated by the mineral. Thus, in addition to guiding carbohydrate pre-metabolism, borate minerals in evaporite geoorganic contexts offer a solution to the phosphate problem in the “RNA first” model for the origins of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15816-15820
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Volume55
Issue number51
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • borates
  • mars
  • prebiotic chemistry
  • ribonucleosides
  • rna world

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)

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