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Dedicated to one of the great pioneers of this science, Leslie Orgel, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, this compilation of reviews and original manuscripts provides an overview of the current state of the art, written by some of the major players in this creative domain of 'explorative chemistry' (such as Christian De Duve, Albert Eschenmoser, G#nter W#chtersh#user).
Since we are still far from finding a definitive answer to the most fundamental of questions in science, 'chemistry' here is defined in its broadest sense. It is against this background that the contributions cover such a wide range of theories, including chemistry and selection, evolution of the pioneer organism, chemical aspects of synthetic biology, ribozyme catalysis of metabolism in the RNA world, intractable mixtures and the origin of life, the chemical etiology of nucleic acids, interstellar amino acids, and even the chemistry that preceded life's origin.
1. On Chemistry Leading to Life's Origin (P. Herdewijn, M.V. Kisakurek) 2. Reactions of the HCN-Tetramer with Aldehydes (K. Koch, W. B. Schweizer, A. Eschenmoser) 3. On a Hypothetical Generational Relationship between HCN and Constituents of the Reductive Citric Acid Cycle (A. Eschenmoser) 4. Chemistry and Selection (C. de Duve) 5. On the Chemistry and Evolution of the Pioneer Organism (G. Wachtershauser) 6. Chemical Aspects of Synthetic Biology (P. L. Luisi) 7. Errors and Alternatives in Prebiotic Replication and Catalysis (J. Ninio) 8. Ribozyme Catalysis of Metabolism in the RNA World (X. Chen, N. Li, A. D. Ellington) 9. Intractable Mixtures and the Origin of Life (A. W. Schwartz) 10. From Interstellar Amino Acids to Prebiotic Catalytic Peptides: A Review (A. Brack) 11. The Chemistry That Preceded Life's Origin: A Study Guide from Meteorites (S. Pizzarello) 12. Formamide Chemistry and the Origin of Informational Polymers (R. Saladino, C. Crestini, F. Ciciriello, G. Costanzo, E. Di Mauro) 13. RNA: Prebiotic Product, or Biotic Invention? (C. Anastasi, F. F. Buchet, M. A. Crowe, A. L. Parkes, M. W. Powner, J. M. Smith, (J. D. Sutherland) 14. Chemical Etiology of Nucleic Acids: Aminopropyl Nucleic Acids (APNAs) (D. Zhou, M. Froeyen, J. Rozenski, A. Van Aerschot, P. Herdewijn) 15. Nonenzymatic Recombination of RNA: Possible Mechanism for the Formation of Novel (Sequences (A. V. Lutay, M. A. Zenkova, V. V. Vlassov) 16. Addressing the Problems of Base Pairing and Strand Cyclization in Template-Directed (Synthesis A Case for the Utility and Necessity of 'Molecular Midwives a'nd Reversible Backbone (Linkages for the Origin of proto-RNA (N. V. Hud, S. S. Jain, X. Li, D. G. Lynn) 17. Chemical Primer Extension: Individual Steps of Spontaneous Replication (J. A. R. Stutz, E. Kervio, C. Deck, C. Richert) 18. Conformational and Chiral Selection of Oligonucleotides (M. Froeyen, F. Morvan, J.-J. Vasseur, P. Nielsen, A. Van Aerschot, H. Rosemeyer, (P. Herdewijn 19. Preparation of Guanine and Diaminopurine from Biuret (Part III (I. M. Lagoja, P. Herdewijn) 20. RNAs in Extreme Environments (M.-C. Maurel) 21. Evolution of Optimal Accuracy and Stability in Biological Systems (R. Holliday) 22. Differences in Substrate Specificity of C(5)-Substituted or Unsubstituted Pyrimidine Nucleotides by DNA Polymerases from Thermophilic Bacteria, Archae, and Phage (H. Sawai)
This is a book that will tcst the chemical knowledge of biologists, while providing a rich variety of pathways to explore in thinking about the origin of the biosphere. (The Quarterly Review of Biology, March 2009) "The editors have done their job in keeping their multitude of authors speaking with a common voice and a steady depth, and done an equally fine job of balancing opposing views ... .Most of the key players are here, and most of the key theories are presented in illuminating and informative depth." (Chemistry World, January 2009) "For students it is intellectually appealing, for lecturers it includes valuable information and numerous colored figures, and researchers will find it stimulating." (Angewandte Chemie, October 20, 2008)