Aug 25 – 27, 2021
Europe/Berlin timezone

On the prebiotic synthesis of non-canonical nucleosides

Aug 25, 2021, 12:25 PM


Due to unstable situation with Covid-19 the event will be held online!


Matthew Powner (UCL)


The structure of life’s first genetic polymer is a question of ongoing debate. The “RNA world theory” suggests RNA was life’s first nucleic acid, however ribonucleotides are complex chemical structures and simpler nucleic acids, such as threose nucleic acid (TNA), can carry genetic information. In principle, nucleic acids like TNA could have played a vital role in the origins of life, but the advent of any genetic polymer requires synthesis of its monomers. Almost 20 years ago, as part of a seminal study evaluating the potential of non-canonical nucleotides to have contributed to the origin of life, Eschenmoser and co-workers evaluated RNA, TNA, and amino-TNAs (1,2,3). In this talk, the prebiotic synthesis of TNA (4) and amino-TNA nucleosides will be re-examined in light of recent developments in prebiotic nucleotide and peptide synthesis (5,6,7,8,9,10).

1. Schöning et al. Helv. Chim. Acta 2002, 85, 4111.
2. Wu et al. Org. Lett. 2002, 4, 1279.
3. Eschenmoser Orig. Life Evol. Biosph. 2004, 34, 277–306.
4. Colville & Powner Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2021, 60, 10526.
5. Islam & Powner Chem. 2017, 2, 470.
6. Islam et al. Nat. Chem. 2017, 9, 584.
7. Xu et al. Nat. Chem. 2017, 9, 303.
8. Powner et al. Nature 2009, 459, 239.
9. Canavelli et al. Nature 2019, 571, 546.
10. Foden et al. Science 2020, 370, 865.

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