Heteropolypeptides from poly-alpha-cyanoglycine and hydrogen cyanide: a model for the origin of proteins

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Science  24 Oct 1975:
Vol. 190, Issue 4212, pp. 387-389
DOI: 10.1126/science.170680


Poly-alpha-cyanoglycine, a homopolymer synthesized from the N-carboxyanhydride of alpha-cyanoglycine, is converted by cumulative reaction of hydrogen cyanide to heteropolypeptides that can be hydrolyzed to protein amino acids, including glycine, alanine, valine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the original heteropolypeptides on the earth arose spontaneously from hydrogen cyanide and water without the intervening formation of alpha-amino acids.