University of Cambridge > > LCLU Seminars > A New Spin on the Origin of Biological Homochirality

A New Spin on the Origin of Biological Homochirality

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Selen EtingĂĽ.

Life needs essential biomolecules such as amino acids and sugars, which exist in mirror symmetrical pairs. However, biological systems selectively use only one form of these pairs: right-handed sugars and left-handed amino acids. The origin of this asymmetry remains to be an open problem and it is this long-standing mystery we address in this work. The chiral-induced spin selectivity (CISS) effect has established a strong coupling between electron spin and molecular chirality and this coupling paves the way for breaking the chiral molecular symmetry by spin-selective processes. Magnetic surfaces can act as chiral agents due to the CISS effect and they can be templates for the enantioselective crystallization of chiral molecules. In this work, we studied the spin-selective crystallization of racemic ribo-aminooxazoline (RAO), an RNA precursor, on magnetite surfaces, achieving homochirality in two crystallization steps. Moreover, we have shown the chirality-induced magnetization of magnetite by RAO molecules—proving the reciprocal nature of the effect. Finally, we suggest that the achieved homochirality in RAO can efficiently propagate throughout the entire prebiotic network. Our results demonstrate a prebiotically plausible way of achieving systems-level homochirality from completely racemic starting materials.

This talk is part of the LCLU Seminars series.

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