Extraterrestrial ribose and other sugars in primitive meteorites

Yoshihiro Furukawa, Yoshito Chikaraishi, Naohiko Ohkouchi, Nanako O. Ogawa, Daniel P. Glavin, Jason P. Dworkin, Chiaki Abe, Tomoki Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sugars are essential molecules for all terrestrial biota working in many biological processes. Ribose is particularly essential as a building block of RNA, which could have both stored information and catalyzed reactions in primitive life on Earth. Meteorites contain a number of organic compounds including key building blocks of life, i.e., amino acids, nucleobases, and phosphate. An amino acid has also been identified in a cometary sample. However, the presence of extraterrestrial bioimportant sugars remains unclear. We analyzed sugars in 3 carbonaceous chondrites and show evidence of extraterrestrial ribose and other bioessential sugars in primitive meteorites. The 13C-enriched stable carbon isotope compositions (δ13C vs. VPDB) of the detected sugars show that the sugars are of extraterrestrial origin. We also conducted a laboratory simulation experiment of a potential sugar formation reaction in space. The compositions of pentoses in meteorites and the composition of the products of the laboratory simulation suggest that meteoritic sugars were formed by formose-like processes. The mineral compositions of these meteorites further suggest the formation of these sugars both before and after the accretion of their parent asteroids. Meteorites were carriers of prebiotic organic molecules to the early Earth; thus, the detection of extraterrestrial sugars in meteorites establishes the existence of natural geological routes to make and preserve them as well as raising the possibility that extraterrestrial sugars contributed to forming functional biopolymers like RNA on the early Earth or other primitive worlds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24440-24445
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume116
Issue number49
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 3

Keywords

  • Carbohydrate
  • Exogenous delivery
  • Meteorite
  • RNA
  • Ribose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Extraterrestrial ribose and other sugars in primitive meteorites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this