Formation versus hydrolysis of the peptide bond from a quantum-mechanical viewpoint: The role of mineral surfaces and implications for the origin of life

Albert Rimola, Piero Ugliengo, Mariona Sodupe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The condensation (polymerization by water elimination) of molecular building blocks to yield the first active biopolymers (e.g. of amino acids to form peptides) during primitive Earth is an intriguing question that nowadays still remains open since these processes are thermodynamically disfavoured in highly dilute water solutions. In the present contribution, formation and hydrolysis of glycine oligopeptides occurring on a cluster model of sanidine feldspar (001) surface have been simulated by quantum mechanical methods. Results indicate that the catalytic interplay between Lewis and Bronsted sites both present at the sanidine surface, in cooperation with the London forces acting between the biomolecules and the inorganic surface, plays a crucial role to: i) favour the condensation of glycine to yield oligopeptides as reaction products; ii) inhibit the hydrolysis of the newly formed oligopeptides. Both facts suggest that mineral surfaces may have helped in catalyzing, stabilizing and protecting from hydration the oligopeptides formed in the prebiotic era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-760
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009

Keywords

  • Catalysis; mineral surfaces
  • Peptide bond formation
  • Peptide hydrolysis
  • Prebiotic chemistry
  • Theoretical calculations

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