The origin of DNA: molecules arrived in meteorites

The origin of DNA: molecules arrived in meteorites

Molecules transported to Earth in meteorite impacts could become the building blocks of DNA , according to a new study by researchers at the University of York.

The study determined that organic compounds called amino nitriles, the molecular precursors of amino acids, were able to use the molecules present in interstellar ice to activate the formation of the molecule 2-deoxy-D-ribose, the backbone of DNA. .

The uncertain origin of DNA

DNA is one of the most important molecules in living systems, yet the origin of 2-deoxy-D-ribose, before life on Earth began, has remained a mystery. According to Paul Clarke of the Department of Chemistry at the University of York:

The origin of important biological molecules is one of the fundamental fundamental questions of science: the molecules that make up the building blocks of DNA have to come from somewhere; present on Earth when they formed or came from space, hitting Earth in a meteor shower. Scientists had already shown that there were particular molecules present in space that reached Earth in an ice comet, prompting our team in York to think about investigating whether they could be used to make one of the building blocks of DNA. That then could mean that a DNA building block was present before the amino acids.