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Origin of life: Why Alzheimer world (noted yesterday) won’t work

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Case you wondered. David A. DeWitt (that guy who knows a lot about skulls and can’t make sense of Bill Nye’s debate skulls slide) responds to the claim that “molecules like Alzheimer plaques may have powered early life”. The claim is:

Korendovych’s latest research points to amyloids as a potential solution. Unlike enzymes, amyloids contain very short chains of amino acids, called peptides. “You can imagine that these short peptides could form in primordial soup,” says Korendovych.

DeWitt replies,

Small amyloid peptides are going to form a repeating fibril. They are extremely stable and repeating. Silk is an amyloid type fibril.

I noted that the so called enzymatic activity was ester hydrolysis. For those who don’t know what this means, it is breaking of an ester bond. Breaking a bond does not really help for the origin of life because you need to MAKE bonds not just break them. You have to build stuff not just take it apart. Further, the reaction is nucleophilic acyl substitution. The ester will break into the carboxylic acid and alcohol. The reaction will occur in dilute acid or dilute base. In fact, just putting in a little bit of hydrochloric acid will catalyze the hydrolysis of esters.

This does not get closer to the origin of life.

He thinks it sounds more like desperation for some way to make it work.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG

Hmmm. Wonder when hydrochloric acid world will be proposed? So many other elements and compounds have got a look in.

See also: Maybe if we throw enough models at the origin of life… some of them will stick?


Science-Fictions-square.gif The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (origin of life)

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