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在水中组装的分子揭示生命起源

在水中组装的分子揭示生命起源

研究人员正在探索有关核糖核酸起源的另一种理论:他们认为,核糖核酸的碱基可能由一对区别于现在的碱基的分子进化而来。

这个理论的吸引力似乎越来越强,因为研究人员可以使用类似于RNA碱基的小分子在水中进行高效而且非常有序的自组装。这些“最初以核糖核酸碱基为基础的分子”可自发地组装成相当于基因长度的线性堆叠,这表明生物的基因可能是从这些分子或相似分子开始演变的。

这项研究发表于《美国化学会志》网站上。

了解更多:

Efficient Self-Assembly in Water of Long Noncovalent Polymers by Nucleobase Analogues

J. Am. Chem. Soc.,February 8, 2013 | DOI: 10.1021/ja312155v

Molecular self-assembly is widely appreciated to result from a delicate balance between several noncovalent interactions and solvation effects. However, current design approaches for achieving self-assembly in water with small, synthetic molecules do not consider all aspects of the hydrophobic effect, in particular the requirement of surface areas greater than 1 nm2 for an appreciable free energy of hydration. With the concept of a minimum hydrophobic surface area in mind, we designed a system that achieves highly cooperative self-assembly in water. Two weakly interacting low-molecular-weight monomers (cyanuric acid and a modified triaminopyrimidine) are shown to form extremely long supramolecular polymer assemblies that retain water solubility. The complete absence of intermediate assemblies means that the observed equilibrium is between free monomers and supramolecular assemblies. These observations are in excellent agreement with literature values for the free energy of nucleic acid base interactions as well as the calculated free energy penalty for the exposure of hydrophobic structures in water. The results of our study have implications for the design of new self-assembling structures and hydrogel-forming molecules and may provide insights into the origin of the first RNA-like polymers.

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