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Photochirogenesis: Photochemical Models on the Origin of Biomolecular Homochirality

Author(s): Cornelia Meinert | Jean-Jacques Filippi | Laurent Nahon | Søren V. Hoffmann | Louis d’Hendecourt | Pierre de Marcellus | Jan Hendrik Bredehöft | Wolfram H.-P. Thiemann | Uwe J. Meierhenrich

Journal: Symmetry
ISSN 2073-8994

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1055;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: amino acids | homochirality | enantioselective photosynthesis | asymmetric photolysis | origin of life

Current research focuses on a better understanding of the origin of biomolecular asymmetry by the identification and detection of the possibly first chiral molecules that were involved in the appearance and evolution of life on Earth. We have reasons to assume that these molecules were specific chiral amino acids. Chiral amino acids have been identified in both chondritic meteorites and simulated interstellar ices. Present research reasons that circularly polarized electromagnetic radiation was identified in interstellar environments and an asymmetric interstellar photon-molecule interaction might have triggered biomolecular symmetry breaking. We review on the possible prebiotic interaction of ‘chiral photons’ in the form of circularly polarized light, with early chiral organic molecules. We will highlight recent studies on enantioselective photolysis of racemic amino acids by circularly polarized light and experiments on the asymmetric photochemical synthesis of amino acids from only one C and one N containing molecules by simulating interstellar environments. Both approaches are based on circular dichroic transitions of amino acids that will be presented as well.
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