ECR Seminar: Dr Nick Green; University of Otago
Monday, 5 September 4:00pm – 5:00pm
This seminar will be delivered in Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4 and Online Zoom Please email email@example.com for zoom link and password.
Speaker: Dr Nick Green; University of Otago
Host: Dr Jonathan Danon
Title: DNA, RNA and Dehydroalanine: Synthetic Evidence Supporting Prebiological Origins
Abtsract: The advent of life requires several ‘key ingredients’ – the identity of these, potential routes to their prebiological synthesis, and a study of their properties that lead to biological behaviours is the domain of prebiotic chemistry.
Herein, I will discuss the discovery of a prebiotic photoreduction reaction uniting canonical biomolecules RNA and DNA.1,2 Our recent studies3 into the mechanism of this transformation revealed an unprecedented free radical coupling reaction between alkyl and sulfite radicals, which presents a reasonable pathway by which RNA and DNA may have been co-produced in a primordial scenario, as well as opportunities for exploitation in synthesis.
Amino acids are also central to the development of sophisticated, organised and functional chemical behaviours that we recognise as biological. I will also discuss my work implicating formamide as an essential component of the prebiotic milieu, because of its role in the synthesis of dehydroalanine and other amino acid derivatives, which may have a played a critical supporting role to nucleic acids in the rise of biology.
1. Nature 582, 60–66 (2020)
2. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 143, 7219-7236 (2021)
3. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 143, 14482−14486 (2021)
Biography: Nick Green completed his PhD at the ANU then worked at University of Edinburgh and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. He started as a Lecturer at University of Otago in 2022.