Amino Acids and the Asymmetry of Life: Caught in the Act of by Uwe Meierhenrich

By Uwe Meierhenrich

"How did lifestyles originate and why have been left-handed molecules chosen for its architecture?" this question of excessive public and interdisciplinary clinical curiosity is the crucial subject matter of this ebook. it's widely recognized that during procedures triggering the beginning of lifestyles in the world, the equivalent incidence, the parity among left-handed amino acids and their right-handed reflect photographs, was once violated. The stability used to be unavoidably tipped to the left – due to which life's proteins at the present time completely enforce the left kind of amino acids.

Written in an interesting variety, this booklet describes how the elemental construction blocks of existence, the amino acids, shaped. After a understandable creation to stereochemistry, the writer addresses the inherent estate of amino acids in dwelling organisms, specifically the choice for left-handedness. What used to be the reason for the violation of parity of amino acids within the emergence of existence on the earth? the entire attention-grabbing types proposed by way of physicists, chemists and biologist are vividly offered together with the clinical conflicts. the writer describes the try and determine any of these versions with the chirality module of the ROSETTA challenge, a probe outfitted and introduced with the challenge to land on a comet and examine no matter if there are chiral natural compounds which could were delivered to the Earth via cometary impacts.

A really interdisciplinary astrobiology booklet, "Amino Acids and the Asymmetry of lifestyles" will fascinate scholars, researchers and all readers with backgrounds in normal sciences.

With a foreword by way of Henri B. Kagan.

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Extra resources for Amino Acids and the Asymmetry of Life: Caught in the Act of Formation (Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics)

Example text

Stereodescriptors are aR, if the substituents’ priority rotates in a clockwise manner, and aS for anti-clockwise rotation. Helical chirality, a special case of axial chirality, is given when a molecular structure describes the form of a helix around an axis. If the molecule describes a helix in a clockwise manner away from the viewer, we call it a P-helix (P for plus), if it rotates in an anticlockwise manner away from the viewer, it is called a M-helix (M for minus). In DNA (P-helix), starch, and proteins (P-helix), helical chirality is of importance.

1. These two structures illustrate the identical U. Meierhenrich, Amino Acids and the Asymmetry of Life. Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics, c Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008 17 18 2 Stereochemistry for the Study of the Origin of Life Fig. 1 Two three-dimensional non-superimposable molecular structures of the amino acid α-alanine. The structures are unsymmetrical and chiral; each of them is called an enantiomer constitution of all chemical bonds connecting the functional groups of α-alanine.

As mentioned above, α-methyl amino acids were identified in the Murchison carbonaceous chondrite showing higher enantiomeric excesses compared to α-H amino acids. A higher resistance of α-methyl amino acids to racemization could explain this observation. Here, the observed enantiomeric excesses likely represent the original state of these α-methyl amino acids, whereas the more easily racemized α-H amino acids could have initially existed in non-racemic proportions too, but racemized during alteration of the carbonaceous chondrite parent body (Cronin and Pizzarello 1997).

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