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Keywords:

  • carbohydrates;
  • nucleobases;
  • nucleosides;
  • prebiotic chemistry;
  • ribose
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Sweetness and life: Pentose aminooxazolines—intermediates in potentially prebiotic nucleoside synthesis—can be produced in water from a reaction that bypasses the corresponding sugar. 2-Aminooxazole, a condensation product of glycolaldehyde and cyanamide, reacts with glyceraldehyde under mild conditions in a remarkable process that is essentially quantitative, and is highly stereoselective for ribose and arabinose aminooxazolines.