ORIGIN OF LIFE:
POLYMERISATION OF PREBIOTIC MONOMERS
The emergence of biopolymers is one of the key steps that led to the formation of life on Earth. To form functional biopolymers, the preexisting monomers had to be brought into closer proximity and their polymerisation had to be made thermodynamically and kinetically favorable. Most bio-monomers do not polymerize in aqueous solution but the adsorption to mineral surfaces decreases the degrees of freedom, thus increasing the probability of monomer interaction, promoting polymerisation. However, the energetics of nucleotide adsorption on minerals is still not well understood and the proposed mechanisms are questionable.
We used dynamic force spectroscopy (DFS) to explore the bonding relationships between model clay mineral surfaces and model nucleotides, to provide a thermodynamic explanation for differences in nucleotide adsorption on basal and edge clay mineral surfaces.
Our results fills a gap in understanding how polymerisation of nonactivated nucleotides to nucleic acids could have occurred and resulted in the RNA world. This work proves that we can expect different binding energetics between nucleic acids and various minerals. I also view this work as a proof of concept and the methodology introduces a new way of quantifying interactions between polymers and minerals.
The DFS data: