UV-light-driven prebiotic synthesis of iron–sulfur clusters

Bonfio, Claudia, Valer, Luca, Scintilla, Simone, Shah, Sachin N, Evans, David J., Jin, Lin, Szostak, Jack W., Sasselov, Dimitar D., Sutherland, John D. and Mansy, Sheref S. (2017) UV-light-driven prebiotic synthesis of iron–sulfur clusters. Nature Chemistry, 9. 1229–1234. ISSN 1755-4330

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Iron–sulfur clusters are ancient cofactors that play a fundamental role in metabolism and may have impacted the prebiotic chemistry that led to life. However, it is unclear whether iron–sulfur clusters could have been synthesized on prebiotic Earth. Dissolved iron on early Earth was predominantly in the reduced ferrous state, but ferrous ions alone cannot form polynuclear iron–sulfur clusters. Similarly, free sulfide may not have been readily available. Here we show that UV light drives the synthesis of [2Fe–2S] and [4Fe–4S] clusters through the photooxidation of ferrous ions and the photolysis of organic thiols. Iron–sulfur clusters coordinate to and are stabilized by a wide range of cysteine-containing peptides and the assembly of iron–sulfur cluster-peptide complexes can take place within model protocells in a process that parallels extant pathways. Our experiments suggest that iron–sulfur clusters may have formed easily on early Earth, facilitating the emergence of an iron–sulfur-cluster-dependent metabolism.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Chemistry
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2017 06:07
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 03:20
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/65391
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2817

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