How did life evolve from individual molecules? Scientists have been trying to find answers to this question for centuries. Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology presented a workflow that closely mimic the conditions at the beginning of life to study how secondary functional structures, such as peptides, arise from a mixture of simple molecules.
Chemical evolution theories suggest that amino acid condensation plays a crucial role in the evolvement of peptide and ancient peptides are build with both amino acids and α-hydroxyl acids. By exposing a mixture of three α-amino and one α-hydroxy acids to repeated hot-dry/cool-wet cycles over 4 days, hundreds of proto-peptide sequences were detected using mass-spectrometry (MS)-based techniques. Importantly, this study indicated that each cycle increased the complexity of peptides significantly and the incorporation of each amino or α-hydoxy acids into peptides were not random. The diversity of peptides resulted from just four amino or α-hydoxy acids suggested the unlimited potential of using this workflow with more amino acids to uncover the origin of life.
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