Origins of life: Systems chemistry on early Earth

  title={Origins of life: Systems chemistry on early Earth},
  author={Jack W. Szostak},
Understanding how life emerged on Earth is one of the greatest challenges facing modern chemistry. A new way of looking at the synthesis of RNA sidesteps a thorny problem in the field. 
From soup to peptides
A bottom-up approach for forming peptides, taking place under mild, prebiotically-plausible conditions, has been developed, which uses α-aminonitrile precursors, bypassing α-amino acids entirely.
On the Emergence of Living Systems
The resources of the new sciences of complex systems dynamics can provide a more robust conceptual framework within which to explore the possible pathways of chemical complexification leading to living systems and biosemiosis.
Illuminating Life’s Origins: UV Photochemistry in Abiotic Synthesis of Biomolecules
Reactivity and selectivity in photochemical prebiotic synthesis are discussed, as are their implications for origins of life scenarios and their plausibility, and the future directions of this research.
Primal Eukaryogenesis: On the Communal Nature of Precellular States, Ancestral to Modern Life
The coevolutionary emergence from a communal system at the common root can most naturally explain the vast discrepancy in subcellular organization between modern eukaryotes on the one hand and both archaea and bacteria on the other.
Chemistry of Abiotic Nucleotide Synthesis.
This review provides a background and up-to-date progress that will allow the reader to judge where the field stands currently and what remains to be achieved, and concludes with a cautionary note about coming to conclusions about whether the problem of chemistry of prebiotic nucleotide synthesis has been solved.
Is the transition from chemistry to biology a mystery?
The task to understand life's origin as a rational process is closely related to the earlier attempts of the present author to design and construct supra-molecular machines and the approach given here is an attempt.
Fougerite: the not so simple progenitor of the first cells
An extended version of the AHV scenario is put forward which enhances the conformity between extant life and its earliest progenitor by extensively making use of fougerite's mechanistic and catalytic particularities.
Conversion of Biosynthetic Precursors of RNA to Those of DNA by Photoredox Chemistry
DNA biosynthetic precursors can be formed abiotically from those of RNA allowing for an early evolutionary transition to life based on RNA and DNA.


Prebiotic chemistry and the origin of the RNA world.
  • L. Orgel
  • Biology
    Critical reviews in biochemistry and molecular biology
  • 2004
The demonstration that ribosomal peptide synthesis is a ribozyme-catalyzed reaction makes it almost certain that there was once an RNA World, and a discussion of genetic systems simpler than RNA that might have "invented" RNA is discussed.
Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions
It is shown that activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides can be formed in a short sequence that bypasses free ribose and the nucleobases, and instead proceeds through arabinose amino-oxazoline and anhydronucleoside intermediates.
Urea-Inorganic Phosphate Mixtures as Prebiotic Phosphorylating Agents
The addition of urea and ammonium chloride to the reaction mixture permits phosphorylation in high yield with neutral or basic phosphates at temperatures in the range of 65� to 100�C and it is believed that this procedure plausible model for prebiotic phosphorylated nucleosides.
RNA world