Research team from Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy finds clue to possible extraterrestrial origin of peptides.
Researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have discovered a new clue in the search for the origin of life by showing that peptides can form on dust under conditions such as those prevailing in outer space. These molecules, which are one of the basic building blocks of all life, may therefore not have originated on our planet at all, but possibly in cosmic molecular clouds.
Chains of amino acids
All life as we know it consists of the same chemical building blocks. These include peptides, which perform various completely different functions in the body – transporting substances, accelerating reactions, or forming stabilizing scaffolds in cells. Peptides consist of individual
Amino acids are a set of organic compounds used to build proteins. There are about 500 naturally occurring known amino acids, though only 20 appear in the genetic code. Proteins consist of one or more chains of amino acids called polypeptides. The sequence of the amino acid chain causes the polypeptide to fold into a shape that is biologically active. The amino acid sequences of proteins are encoded in the genes. Nine proteinogenic amino acids are called "essential" for humans because they cannot be produced from other compounds by the human body and so must be taken in as food.