Mechanism of Synthesis of Adenine from Hydrogen Cyanide under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions

@article{Or1961MechanismOS,
  title={Mechanism of Synthesis of Adenine from Hydrogen Cyanide under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions},
  author={Joan Or{\'o}},
  journal={Nature},
  year={1961},
  volume={191},
  pages={1193-1194}
}
  • J. Oró
  • Published 16 September 1961
  • Chemistry
  • Nature
IT has recently been shown that adenine and the purine precursors 4-aminoimidazole-5-carboxamidine and formamidine are formed spontaneously from hydrogen cyanide in water–ammonia systems under conditions assumed to have existed on the primitive Earth1. 

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It is shown here that guanine is also produced by this reaction but at yields ranging from 10 to 40 times less than that of adenine, which would make this prebiotic synthesis applicable to frozen regions of the primitive Earth, the Jovian satellite Europa and other icy satellites, and the parent body of the Murchison meteorite.

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The self-catalyzed mechanism of formamide, a simple C1 building block hypothesized to be a precursor to many protometabolic compounds, is suggested to be more reactive in addition reactions than HCN and may elucidate processes that were vital for the emergence of life on the early earth.

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  • 2004
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The suggestion that the synthesis of adenine may have involved the photochemical conversion of the tetramer of hydrogen cyanide in eutectic solution to 4-amino-5-cyano-imidazole is revisited.

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