Dougal J. Ritson

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A minimal cell can be thought of as comprising informational, compartment-forming and metabolic subsystems. To imagine the abiotic assembly of such an overall system, however, places great demands on hypothetical prebiotic chemistry. The perceived differences and incompatibilities between these subsystems have led to the widely held assumption that one or(More)
In continuing studies aimed at understanding the prebiotic origin of RNA, we recently demonstrated a Kiliani–Fischer-type synthesis of simple sugars from hydrogen cyanide 1 using photoredox cycling of cyanocuprates (Scheme 1). The photoredox cycle oxidizes 1 to cyanogen 2 and generates associated reducing power in the form of protons and hydrated electrons,(More)
A recent synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides under prebiotically plausible conditions relied on mixed oxygenous and nitrogenous systems chemistry. As it stands, this synthesis provides support for the involvement of RNA in the origin of life, but such support would be considerably strengthened if the sugar building blocks for the(More)
A synthetic approach towards the structurally complex dimer, kingianin A is reported. The strategy involved a cascade of complexity generating reactions, inspired through biosynthetic speculation. A concise protecting group free synthesis of the proposed monomeric precursor pre-kingianin A has been achieved using a tandem Stille cross-coupling reaction and(More)
The importance of functional group orientations and the integrity of the bicyclic perhydrofuran core of malayamycin A and two equally active N-nucleoside analogues as fungicides were investigated. Two analogues 10 and 11, representing a THP-truncated and a bicyclic aza-variant, were synthesized and found to be inactive. Molecular dynamics studies on(More)
Conditions are reported for the facile, high-yielding coupling of acyl chlorides with terminal alkynes in a reaction involving palladium and copper iodide; the reaction is tolerant of a wide variety of acyl chlorides and terminal alkynes and provides a convenient one-pot route to acetylenic ketones.
Soon after the origin of RNA-based life, depletion of prebiotically synthesised ribonucleotides would have driven the evolution of a biosynthetic pathway to these key building blocks. Ribozyme-catalysed nucleosidation—the key biosynthetic step—requires that ribose and the nucleobases are produced by abiotic chemistry and are relatively stable to the(More)
An efficient protocol for the synthesis of a range of 1,2-benzisoxazoles using an improved 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition of nitrile oxides and benzyne is described. Key to the procedure is the in situ generation of the reactive nitrile oxide and benzyne reactants simultaneously.