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The Formation and Self-Assembly of Long Prebiotic Oligomers Produced by the Condensation of Unactivated Amino Acids on Oxide Surfaces

Authors

  • Prof. Gianmario Martra,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry and Interdepartmental Centre, Nanostructured interfaces and surfaces (NIS), University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino (Italy)
    • Department of Chemistry and Interdepartmental Centre, Nanostructured interfaces and surfaces (NIS), University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino (Italy)===

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  • Dr. Chiara Deiana,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Interdepartmental Centre, Nanostructured interfaces and surfaces (NIS), University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino (Italy)
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Dr. Yuriy Sakhno,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Interdepartmental Centre, Nanostructured interfaces and surfaces (NIS), University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino (Italy)
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Ilvis Barberis,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Interdepartmental Centre, Nanostructured interfaces and surfaces (NIS), University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino (Italy)
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  • Marco Fabbiani,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Interdepartmental Centre, Nanostructured interfaces and surfaces (NIS), University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino (Italy)
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  • Dr. Marco Pazzi,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Interdepartmental Centre, Nanostructured interfaces and surfaces (NIS), University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino (Italy)
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  • Prof. Marco Vincenti

    1. Department of Chemistry and Interdepartmental Centre, Nanostructured interfaces and surfaces (NIS), University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino (Italy)
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  • The University of Torino and the Compagnia di San Paolo are acknowledged for funding (Project No. ORTO11RRT5). The authors are grateful to Prof. P. Ugliengo for fruitful discussion.

Abstract

In situ IR and mass spectrometry evidence for the catalytic formation on SiO2 and TiO2 surfaces of glycine oligomers (poly-Gly) up to 16 units long by successive feeding with monomers from the vapor phase is presented. Parallel experiments carried out on hydroxyapatite resulted in the unreactive adsorption of Gly, thus indicating that the oligomerization was specifically catalyzed by the surfaces of SiO2 and TiO2. Furthermore, the poly-Gly moved on the surface when contacted with H2O vapor and formed self-assembled aggregates containing both helical and β-sheet-like structural motifs. These results indicate that polypeptides formed by the condensation of amino acids adsorbed on a mineral surface can evolve into structured supramolecular assemblies.

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