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Cyclophospholipids Increase Protocellular Stability to Metal Ions

submitted on 23.06.2019, 07:05 and posted on 24.06.2019, 16:33 by Ö. Duhan Toparlak, Megha Karki, Veronica Egas Ortuno, Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, Sheref Mansy

Model protocells have long been constructed with fatty acids, because these lipids are prebiotically plausible and can, at least theoretically, support a protocell life cycle. However, fatty acid protocells are stable only within a narrow range of pH and metal ion concentration. This instability is particularly problematic as the early Earth would have had a range of conditions, and life as we know it is completely reliant on metal ions for catalysis and the folding and activity of biological polymers. Here we show that prebiotically plausible monoacyl cyclophospholipids form robust vesicles that survive a broad range of pH and high concentrations of Mg2+, Ca2+, and Na+. Importantly, stability to Mg2+ and Ca2+ is improved by the presence of environmental concentrations of Na+. These results suggest that cyclophospholipids, or lipids with similar characteristics, may have played a central role during the emergence of Darwinian evolution.


Simons Foundation (290358FY18)

Simons Foundation (327124)


Email Address of Submitting Author


University of Trento



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

There are no conflicts to declare.


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