Synthesis and Breakdown of the Universal Precursors to Biological Metabolism Promoted by Ferrous Iron
2018-10-09T12:04:57Z (GMT) by
How core biological metabolism initiated and why it uses the intermediates, reactions and pathways that it does remains unclear. Life builds its molecules from CO<sub>2 </sub>and breaks them down to CO<sub>2 </sub>again through the intermediacy of just five metabolites that act as the hubs of biochemistry. Here, we describe a purely chemical reaction network promoted by Fe<sup>2+ </sup>in which aqueous pyruvate and glyoxylate, two products of abiotic CO<sub>2 </sub>reduction, build up nine of the eleven TCA cycle intermediates, including all five universal metabolic precursors. The intermediates simultaneously break down to CO<sub>2 </sub>in a life-like regime resembling biological anabolism and catabolism. Introduction of hydroxylamine and Fe<sup>0 </sup>produces four biological amino acids. The network significantly overlaps the TCA/rTCA and glyoxylate cycles and may represent a prebiotic precursor to these core metabolic pathways.