Formation Route of First Chiral Amino Acid in the Universe Clarified

Research Press Release | July 06, 2015

Fig. 1: Left and right-handed structures of chiral molecules cannot be superimposed in three dimensions (image shows chiral deuterium-substituted glycine NH2CHDCOOH).
Fig. 1: Left and right-handed structures of chiral molecules cannot be superimposed in three dimensions (image shows chiral deuterium-substituted glycine NH2CHDCOOH).


Press Release
Key Points ・ First success in very low temperature (-261ºC) formation of a molecule having an optical isomer on a solid surface.
・ Research suggests that the first chiral amino acid in the universe was deuterated glycine formed in a dark cloud.
・ The key to clarifying one of the major mysteries of science – the mystery of molecular homochirality.
Overview Some molecules have isomers with the same composition that cannot be superimposed upon each other like our right and left hands; they are called chiral molecules. The Institute of Low Temperature Science verified the possibility that the first chiral amino acid in the universe would be formed on interstellar grains present in dark clouds at extremely low temperatures (-261ºC). This discovery provides an important key to answer the fundamental question of why amino acids and sugars comprising life consist only of one of the optical isomers.
Inquiries

Yasuhiro OBA, Assistant Professor,

Naoki WATANABE, Professor,

Astrophysical Chemistry / Ice and Planetary Science Group, Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University

E-mail: oba:lowtem.hokudai.ac.jp

E-mail: watanabe@lowtem.hokudai.ac.jp

TEL: +81-11-706-5475

FAX: +81-11-706-7142

Japanese

Link

 宇宙で最初の光学活性アミノ酸の生成経路解明 
Publications Chiral glycine formation on cold interstellar grains by quantum tunneling hydrogen-deuterium substitution reactions , Chemical Physics Letters (Elsevier), (2015.6.8)

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