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Metal catalysts and the origin of life

Luca Belmonte and Sheref S. Mansy
Metal catalysts and the origin of life (in Origins of life; transition from geochemistry to biogeochemisty, Nita Sahal (editor) and Hussein Kaddour (editor))
Elements (December 2016) 12 (6): 413-418


Life as we know it is completely dependent on metal ions. Gradients of metal ions drive metabolism, metal centers often form the active sites of enzymes, and metal-ion coordination is largely responsible for protein and RNA folding. This dependence on metal ions likely reflects the environment from which cellular life emerged. However, long chain biological polymers were not present on prebiotic Earth. Therefore, the chemical reactions leading to Earth's first cells must have made use of alternative catalysts that were later superseded by RNA and protein. Here, we discuss the similarities between free metal ions, minerals, and biological enzyme catalysts, and how cellular life could have exploited prebiotic metallocomplexes.

ISSN: 1811-5209
Serial Title: Elements
Serial Volume: 12
Serial Issue: 6
Title: Metal catalysts and the origin of life
Title: Origins of life; transition from geochemistry to biogeochemisty
Author(s): Belmonte, LucaMansy, Sheref S.
Author(s): Sahal, Nitaeditor
Author(s): Kaddour, Husseineditor
Affiliation: University of Trento, Centre for Integrative Biology, Povo, Italy
Affiliation: University of Akron, Department of Polymer Science, Akron, OH, United States
Pages: 413-418
Published: 201612
Text Language: English
Publisher: Mineralogical Society of America and Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland and Mineralogical Association of Canada and Geochemical Society and Clay Minerals Society, International
References: 29
Accession Number: 2017-004969
Categories: General geochemistryGeneral paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Country of Publication: International
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, copyright, Mineralogical Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201704
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