Scientists have created two compounds that closely resemble ribonucleotides. This has raised hopes that it would soon be possible to explain how the building blocks of the polymeric molecule (RNA) were first formed on Earth. These findings are described in a new study, led by Matthew Powner of University College London, and which appeared in the journal Nature Communications. For years, scientists have stood by the theory that life on Earth started through RNA. This hypothesis is based on the fact that RNA not only stores genetic information but also catalyzes biochemical reactions in cells. However, researchers have been unable to demonstrate how RNA’s ribonucleotides could have been synthesized from basic compounds on Earth.
Powner and his colleagues successfully created compounds that are similar to two RNA ribonucleotides from precursor aldehydes. While the compounds look similar to the RNA ribonucleotides, their chemical structures are not the same. The researchers plan to continue their studies and fine-tune their technique to produce compounds that resemble the RNA ribonucleotides more accurately.