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Radiolysis and radioracemization of RNA ribonucleosides: implications for the origins of life

Authors
  • Cataldo, Franco1, 2
  • 1 Actinium Chemical Research Institute, Via Casilina 1626A, Rome, 00133, Italy , Rome (Italy)
  • 2 INAF, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, Via S. Sofia 78, Catania, Italy , Catania (Italy)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Oct 29, 2018
Volume
318
Issue
3
Pages
1649–1661
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10967-018-6276-4
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
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Abstract

The RNA nucleosides, namely adenosine, cytidine, guanosine and uridine were γ-radioyzed in solid state and in vacuo at room temperature to a total dose of 3.2 MGy. Through electronic absorption spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry and through polarimetry and optical rotatory dispersion spectroscopy, it was found that the purine-based nucleosides (adenosine and guanosine) show a much higher radiolysis resistance than the pyrimidine-based nucleosides (cytidine and uridine). In an astrochemical/astrobiological context, these results may explain why purine nucleobases are found in practically all carbonaceous chondrite meteorites while the pyrimidine nucleobases are absent or below the detection limits of the current analytical techniques. In the hypothesis that both purines and pyrimidines nucleobases were present in certain bodies at the beginning of the solar system 4.6 × 109 years ago, the radiolysis due to radionuclides decay has destroyed more easily and completely the pyrimidine bases due to their much lower radiolysis resistance than the purine bases.

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