Scientific Results

Photochemical Synthesis of Citric Acid Cycle Intermediates Based on Titanium Dioxide

Year: 2011

Authors: Saladino R., Brucato J.R., De Sio A., Botta G., Pace E., Gambicorti L.

Autors Affiliation: CNR – National Institute of Optics, Firenze, Italy; Department of Agrobiology and Agrochemistry, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy; INAF–Astrophysical Observatory of Arcetri, Firenze, Italy; Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Florence, Firenze, Italy; INFN-LNF, Roma, Italy

Abstract: The emergence of the citric acid cycle is one of the most remarkable occurrences with regard to understanding the origin and evolution of metabolic pathways. Although the chemical steps of the cycle are preserved intact throughout nature, diverse organisms make wide use of its chemistry, and in some cases organisms use only a selected portion of the cycle. However, the origins of this cycle would have arisen in the more primitive anaerobic organism or even back in the proto-metabolism, which likely arose spontaneously under favorable prebiotic chemical conditions. In this context, we report that UV irradiation of formamide in the presence of titanium dioxide afforded 6 of the 11 carboxylic acid intermediates of the reductive version of the citric acid cycle. Since this cycle is the central metabolic pathway of contemporary biology, this report highlights the role of photochemical processes in the origin of the metabolic apparatus.

Journal/Review: ASTROBIOLOGY

Volume: 11 (8)      Pages from: 815  to: 824

More Information: This work was supported by Italian Space Agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana; ASI) contract n. I/015/07/0 and by MIUR PRIN-2008. This work was carried out in part at DAFNE collider storage ring at the National Frascati Laboratory (LNF) of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). We would like to thank Lorenzo Tozzetti of University of Florence Department of Physics and Astronomy, Antonio Grilli and Agostino Raco of INFN-LNF Frascati for their help in performing the experiments.
KeyWords: Catalysis; UV radiation; Metabolism; Origin of life; Prebiotic chemistry
DOI: 10.1089/ast.2011.0652

Citations: 18
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