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Freezing Effect on Chirality Generation of DL-Alanine-N-Carboxy-Anhydride Oligomerization in Aqueous Solution

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This article is concerned with a study of the role of ice in the synthesis of oligopeptides containing L- or Denantiomeric excess (ee) from racemic alanine. With this aim, the oligomerization of DL-alanine-N-carboxyanhydride was investigated by keeping this activated derivative in liquid (+22°C) or frozen (-20°C) aqueous solutions for 30 days. The aqueous solution of the peptide mixtures were gel-filtered and the aliquots of the fractions were completely hydrolyzed to alanine monomers. These monomers were then derivatized with 1-fluoro-2,4-dinitrophenyl-5-L-alanine amide (Marfey's reagent) and analyzed by RP-HPLC to reveal the occasional enantiomeric excess of L- or D-Ala. The mass spectrometry of the gel-filtered fractions pointed to open-chain peptide mixtures together with a slight amount of cyclic ones, where the residue numbers ranged between 5-8. Our studies indicated that an enantiomeric excess of L- or D-Ala appeared in some oligopeptide fractions. Their excesses were significantly larger in the frozen than liquid solution. Speculations are made as concerns the implications of our findings in the events of prebiotic chemistry.

Keywords: chirality generation; freezing; oligomerization; prebiotic chemistry; racemic alanine

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2007

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.

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