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Origin of Life: Chemical Approach

ISBN: 978-3-90639-050-5
429 pages
April 2008
Origin of Life: Chemical Approach (3906390500) cover image


Dedicated to the fond memory of two great pioneers of this science, Leslie E. Orgel and Stanley L. Miller, this compilation of reviews and original manuscripts provides an overview of the current state of the art, written by some of the eminent "players" in this creative domain of "explorative chemistry".
Since we are still far from finding a definitive answer to the most fundamental of questions in science, "chemistry" here is defined in its broadest sense. It is against this background that the contributions cover such a wide range of theories, including chemistry and selection, evolution of the pioneer organism, chemical aspects of synthetic biology, ribozyme catalysis of metabolism in the RNA world, intractable mixtures and the
origin of life, the chemical etiology of nucleic acids, interstellar amino acids, and even the chemistry that preceded life's origin.
The majority of the articles reproduced in this volume originally appeared in a special issue of Chemistry & Biodiversity under the title "On Chemistry Leading to Life's Origin".
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Table of Contents

1. What Is Life? A Brief Historical Overview (A. Lazcano)
2. Reactions of the HCN-Tetramer with Aldehydes (K. Koch, W. B. Schweizer, A. Eschenmoser)
3. On a Hypothetical Generational Relationship between HCN and Constituents of the Reductive Citric Acid Cycle (A. Eschenmoser)
4. Chemistry and Selection (C. de Duve)
5. On the Chemistry and Evolution of the Pioneer Organism (G. Wächtershäuser)
6. Physico-Chemical and Evolutionary Constraints for the Formation and Selection of First Biopolymers: Towards the Consensus Paradigm of the Abiogenic Origin of Life (A. Y. Mulkidjanian, M. Y. Galperin)
7. Chemical Aspects of Synthetic Biology (P. L. Luisi)
8. Errors and Alternatives in Prebiotic Replication and Catalysis (J. Ninio)
9. Evolution of Optimal Accuracy and Stability in Biological Systems (R. Holliday)
10. Ribozyme Catalysis of Metabolism in the RNA World (X. Chen, N. Li, A. D. Ellington)
11. RNAs in Extreme Environments (C. Torchet, M.-C. Maurel)
12. Intractable Mixtures and the Origin of Life
(A. W. Schwartz)
13. The First Steps of Chemical Evolution towards the Origin of Life (B. M. Rode, D. Fitz, T. Jakschitz)
14. From Interstellar Amino Acids to Prebiotic Catalytic Peptides: A Review (A. Brack)
15. The Chemistry That Preceded Life's Origin: A Study Guide from Meteorites (S. Pizzarello)
16. Formamide Chemistry and the Origin of Informational Polymers (R. Saladino, C. Crestini, F. Ciciriello, G. Costanzo, E. Di Mauro)
17. RNA: Prebiotic Product, or Biotic Invention? (C. stasi, F. F. Buchet,
M. A. Crowe, A. L. Parkes, M. W. Powner, J. M. Smith, J. D. Sutherland)
18. Peptide Nucleic Acids and the Origin of Life (P. E. Nielsen)
19. Chemical Etiology of Nucleic Acids: Aminopropyl Nucleic Acids (APNAs)
(D. Zhou, M. Froeyen, J. Rozenski, A. Van Aerschot, P. Herdewijn)
20. Nonenzymatic Recombination of RNA: Possible Mechanism for the Formation of Novel Sequences (A. V. Lutay, M. A. Zenkova, V. V. Vlassov)
21. Differences in Substrate Specificity of C(5)-Substituted or C(5)-Unsubstituted Pyrimidine Nucleotides by DNA Polymerases from Thermophilic Bacteria, Archaea, and Phages (H. Sawai, J. Nagashima, M.
Kuwahara, R. Kitagata, T. Tamura, I. Matsui)
22. Addressing the Problems of Base Pairing and Strand Cyclization in Template-Directed Synthesis. A Case for the Utility and Necessity of "Molecular Midwives" and Reversible Backbone Linkages for the Origin of proto-RNA (N. V. Hud, S. S. Jain, X. Li, D. G. Lynn)
23. Enzymatic Catalyzed DNA Synthesis using L-Asp-dGMP, L-Asp-dCMP, and L-Asp-dTMP (M. Terrazas, P. Marlière, P. Herdewijn)
24. Chemical Primer Extension: Individual Steps of Spontaneous Replication (J. A. Rojas Stütz, E. Kervio, C. Deck, C. Richert)
25. Conformational and Chiral Selection of Oligonucleotides (M. Froeyen, F. Morvan, J.-J. Vasseur, P. Nielsen, A. Van Aerschot, H. Rosemeyer, P. Herdewijn)
26. Index
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“This is a book that will tcst the chemical knowledge of biologists, while providing a rich variety of pathways to explore in thinking about the origin of the biosphere.” (The Quarterly Review of Biology, March 2009)

"The editors have done their job in keeping their multitude of authors speaking with a common voice and a steady depth, and done an equally fine job of balancing opposing views … .Most of the key players are here, and most of the key theories are presented in illuminating and informative depth." (Chemistry World, January 2009)

"For students it is intellectually appealing, for lecturers it includes valuable information and numerous colored figures, and researchers will find it stimulating." (Angewandte Chemie, October 20, 2008)

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