Origins 2011 – Abstracts
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L6b: Invited Lecture – Prebiotic Chemistry (continued)
The session timespan includes a 15-min introduction by the session Chair.
Exploring the Possible Contributions of Base Pair Intercalation and Reversible Backbone Linkages in the Origin of the First RNA-like Polymers
1Georgia Institute of Technology, United States of America; 2Emory University
We are investigating the hypothesis that small, planar molecules (intercalators) originally selected the nucleic acid base pairs. Experiments reveal that intercalators greatly enhance the nonenzymatic polymerization of tetranucleotides, whereas cyclic oligonucleotides are almost exclusively produced in their absence. Other experiments show that reversible backbone linkages can work with intercalators to promote the formation of long polymers by “recycling” previously cyclized oligonucleotides.