Template-Directed Synthesis of Novel, Nucleic Acid-Like Structures

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Science  03 May 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4699, pp. 585-587
DOI: 10.1126/science.228.4699.585


In studying the origins of life, it is important to examine reactions of substrate mixtures that could plausibly have accumulated on the primitive earth. Nucleoside diphosphates would probably have been synthesized along with the standard nucleotides under prebiotic conditions. For these reasons, the template-directed reactions of activated derivatives of these diphosphates, alone or mixed with activated nucleotides, were investigated. An activated derivative of deoxyguanosine 3',5'-diphosphate condensed efficiently on a polycytidylate template to give oligonucleotide analogues in which each 3',5'-phosphodiester bond was replaced by a pyrophosphate linkage. Oligomers were formed even in the absence of a template, but much more slowly. Template-directed condensation occurred also with an analogous deoxyadenosine derivative on polyuridylic acid and with an analogous acycloguanosine derivative on polycytidylic acid.