Chapter

From Building Blocks to the Polymers of Life

James P. Ferris

in Life's Origin

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233904
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233904.003.0005
From Building Blocks to the Polymers of Life

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This chapter offers an origin-of-life scenario that requires the prebiotic synthesis of biopolymers. Scientists suggest that that RNA was the most important biopolymer in early (but not necessarily the first) life on Earth. In this chapter, the possible steps in prebiotic RNA synthesis are examined. Of the various routes thus far explored, RNA synthesis by polymerization of activated monomers has proved the most successful. The chapter also describes the prebiotic synthesis of amino acid polymers or polypeptides. The most productive route to the prebiotic formation of polypeptides in aqueous solution is by means of the N-carboxyanhydride derivatives of their component amino acids.

Keywords: prebiotic synthesis; biopolymers; RNA; polymerization; amino acid polymers; polypeptides

Chapter.  7424 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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