Adenosine Monophosphate Forms Ordered Arrays in Multilamellar Lipid Matrices: Insights into Assembly of Nucleic Acid for Primitive Life
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A fundamental question of biology is how nucleic acids first assembled and then were incorporated into the earliest forms of cellular life 4 billion years ago. The polymerization of nucleotides is a condensation reaction in which phosphodiester bonds are formed. This reaction cannot occur in aqueous solutions, but guided polymerization in an anhydrous lipid environment could promote a non-enzymatic condensation reaction in which oligomers of single stranded nucleic acids are synthesized. We used X-ray scattering to investigate 5'-adenosine monophosphate (AMP) molecules captured in a multilamellar phospholipid matrix composed of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine. Bragg peaks corresponding to the lateral organization of the confined AMP molecules were observed. Instead of forming a random array, the AMP molecules are highly entangled, with the phosphate and ribose groups in close proximity. This structure may facilitate polymerization of the nucleotides into RNA-like polymers.
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