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A possible prebiotic synthesis of pantetheine, a precursor to coenzyme AThe involvement of coenzyme A in many enzyme reactions suggests that it acted in this capacity very early in the development of life on Earth. Particularly relevant in this regard is its role in the activation of amino acids and hydroxy acids in the biosynthesis of some peptide antibiotics--a mechanism of peptide synthesis that forms the basis for the proposal that a thioester world could have preceded the RNA world. The components of coenzyme A have been shown to be probable prebiotic compounds: beta-alanine, pantoyl lactone and cysteamine and possibly adenosine. We show here that the pantetheine moiety of coenzyme A (which also occurs in a number of enzymes) can be synthesized in yields of several per cent by heating pantoyl lactone, beta-alanine and cysteamine at temperatures as low as 40 degrees C. These components are extremely soluble and so would have been preferentially concentrated in evaporating bodies of water, for example on beaches and at lagoon margins. Our results show that amide bonds can be formed at temperatures as low as 40 degrees C, and provide circumstantial support for the suggestion that pantetheine and coenzyme A were important in the earliest metabolic systems.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Keefe, A. D. (University of California San Diego, La Jolla 92093)
Newton, G. L.
Miller, S. L.
Date Acquired
August 22, 2013
Publication Date
February 23, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: Nature
Volume: 373
Issue: 6516
ISSN: 0028-0836
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
NASA Discipline Number 52-20
NASA Program Exobiology
NASA Discipline Number 93-10
NASA Discipline Exobiology
Non-NASA Center