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Becker, Sidney ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4746-2822; Feldmann, Jonas ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3887-2213; Wiedemann, Stefan; Okamura, Hidenori ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2792-9595; Schneider, Christina ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7110-1744; Iwan, Katharina ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5223-0620; Crisp, Antony ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7173-4376; Rossa, Martin; Amatov, Tynchtyk ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6404-1253 and Carell, Thomas ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7898-2831 (4. October 2019): Unified prebiotically plausible synthesis of pyrimidine and purine RNA ribonucleotides. In: Science, Vol. 366, No. 6461: pp. 76-82 [PDF, 3MB]

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Theories about the origin of life require chemical pathways that allow formation of life’s key building blocks under prebiotically plausible conditions. Complex molecules like RNA must have originated from small molecules whose reactivity was guided by physico-chemical processes. RNA is constructed from purine and pyrimidine nucleosides, both of which are required for accurate information transfer. This is the prerequisite for Darwinian evolution. While separate pathways to purines and pyrimidines have been reported, their concurrent syntheses remain a challenge. We report the synthesis of the pyrimidine nucleosides from small molecules and ribose, driven solely by wet-dry cycles. In the presence of phosphate-containing minerals, 5’-mono- and di-phosphates also form selectively in one-pot. The pathway is compatible with purine synthesis, allowing the concurrent formation of all Watson-Crick bases.

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