Computer rendering showing basic nitrogen atoms (blue) joining two critical nickel atoms (orange).Nanda Lab’s photo
La Jornada newspaper
Tuesday, March 14, 2023, p. 7
A lab study at Rutgers University has found one of the molecules that could have launched life on Earth. It is an intentional peptide
Nickelback, because the nitrogen atoms are bonded to two critical nickel atoms. The discovery published in the journal advance science, It has relevant implications for the search for extraterrestrial life because of the evidence it provides to experts.
Scientists believe that sometime between 3.5 and 3.8 billion years ago there was a tipping point, one that modified the chemistry of prebiotics (molecules before life) in living biological systems.said Vikas Nanda, a researcher in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Rutgers.
We believe the change was initiated by a few small precursor proteins that played key steps in an ancient metabolic reaction. We think we have found one of those groundbreaking peptides.
Peptides are a type of molecule used in the formation of proteins and are made up of blocks of amino acids. The scientists in the group responsible for the study are part of a NASA team called Evolution of Nanomachine in Geosphere and Microbial Ancestors. His goal is to understand how proteins evolved to become the main enablers of life on Earth.
When scanning the universe with telescopes and probes for signs of past, present, or emerging life, scientists often look for
Live Editions Known to support life, such as peptides
Nickelback It could be the new marker that NASA used to detect planets that are about to spawn.
The original starter chemical had to be simple enough to spontaneously synthesize into a primordial soup, but it also had to be chemically active to have the ability to extract energy from its environment and drive a biochemical process.
They examined existing proteins known to be involved in metabolic processes. Knowing that these were too complex to appear in the early stages, they reduced them to their most basic structure. After various experiments, the scientists agreed that the best candidate is the so-called Nickel-Bac, consisting of 13 amino acids and linked to two nickel ions.
The latter was an abundant mineral in the primordial oceans. By binding to the peptide, the nickel atoms become powerful catalysts that attract more protons and electrons, as well as producing hydrogen gas.
This is important because although there are many theories about the origins of life, there is very little laboratory evidence for these ideas. This work shows that metabolic enzymes are not only possible, but also very stable and active, making them a reasonable starting point for life.Nanda concluded.
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