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Study shows adding UV light helps form 'Missing G' of RNA building blocks
Date:6/14/2010

ce of mineral catalysts.

In their ChemBioChem paper, the researchers show for the first time that guanine can be produced by subjecting a solution of formamide to ultraviolet radiation during heating. The trace gaunine yield was greatly enhanced when minerals and photons were used together. In addition, production of adenine and a related molecule called hypoxanthine increased when ultraviolet light was added to the heating process -- a 15-fold increase was seen in adenine yield.

"These results potentially relax some of the requirements and reactions necessary to get life started, because formamide molecules would not have had to be in contact with a particular type of rock when heated on the prebiotic Earth, if the formamide was exposed to direct sunlight during heating," said Nicholas Hud, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The study demonstrated that guanine, adenine and hypoxanthine can be produced at lower temperatures than previously reported, even in the absence of minerals, as long as photons are added.

"For these experiments we built a very simple reaction chamber with an inexpensive 254-nanometer photon source to simulate conditions that could have been present on early Earth," explained Thomas Orlando, also a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "We didn't need extremely sophisticated experimental systems or expensive lasers; however, we did use sophisticated mass spectrometers to analyze the resulting complex chemical mixtures."

The Hud and Orlando laboratories conducted experiments by heating formamide to 130 degrees Celsius -- 30 degrees cooler than previous experiments -- and shining ultraviolet light onto it.

"Our work has allowed us to consider a different type of 'primordial soup' than what has previously been considered possible starting conditions for life," said Orlando. "Our model prebiotic reaction is attractive bec
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Contact: Abby Vogel Robinson
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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