A lot of question marks surround the question of how life began on Earth. New and exciting research reveals a chemical called diamidophosphate (DAP) might be the answer to how on primeval Earth, things suddenly became living, according to a study published in the Nature Chemistry journal by chemists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI).
Scientists already know that existing on Earth are three “ingredients” necessary for the creation of life: lipids for building structures, peptides or amino acids for cell function and nucleotides that form genetic information.
Scientists have postulated that a chemical reaction called phosphorylation, which involves the addition of a phosphate to an organic compound, may be the reaction that connects all three “ingredients” together, since it could have worked under conditions that existed on Earth billions of years ago. Until now, researchers have struggled to define the mechanism for such a reaction.
Researchers led by Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, associate professor of chemistry at TSRI, discovered that DAP was able to phosphorylate nucleosides, which are the building blocks of RNA and DNA, by using an organic catalyst called imidazole. Once DNA and RNA can be created, cells become replicable, one of the key defining factors of life on this planet.
In addition, imidazole combined with DAP catalyzed the phosphorylation of glycerol and fatty acids, producing vesicles, which are sacs filled with fluid or air and are the first versions of phospholipid membranes in cells. Phosphorylation of amino acids using DAP also resulted in amino acids linking into short peptide chains, which make up proteins, which are used by DNA to replicate and are necessary to create complex life and regulate body tissues and organs.
Lipids + peptides + nucleotides = life.
All of these exciting discoveries suggest that DAP may have been the necessary ingredient for the creation of life.
The TSRI team plans to continue its research by finding geological sources of DAP that could have existed on Earth billions of years ago.
“It reminds me of the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, who waves a wand and ‘poof,’ ‘poof,’ ‘poof,’ everything simple is transformed into something more complex and interesting,” Krishnamurthy said, Tech Times reported.