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Selective Nucleobase Pairing Extends Plausibly Prebiotic Conditions to the Solid State

revised on 27.08.2019, 07:47 and posted on 27.08.2019, 15:42 by Tomislav Stolar, Stipe Lukin, Maša Rajić Linarić, Martin Etter, Krunoslav Užarević, Ivan Halasz, Ernest Meštrović
Despite its immense relevance in the context of the emergence of life, the pairing of nucleobases has only been observed for regioselectively methylated adenine and thymine. This is surprising as it raises the question why would nucleobases be incorporated into DNA if they were unable to self-assemble beforehand. Here, we have discovered that elusive pairing of methylated guanine and cytosine is readily available in the solid state by heating, where the two nucleobases self-assemble via Watson-Crick hydrogen-bonding. Dry heating preserves DNA-specificity as a four-component mixture of nucleobases provides self-assembly only of complementary pairs. We thus emphasize the importance of the solid state as the reaction medium, even for the supramolecular chemistry of life, which was thus far underexplored in the prebiotic context.


Email Address of Submitting Author


Ruđer Bošković Institute



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest.

Version Notes

This is version 2.