Prebiotic Synthesis of Redox-Active Iron-Sulfur Clusters

Bonfio, Claudia (2017) Prebiotic Synthesis of Redox-Active Iron-Sulfur Clusters. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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Iron-sulfur clusters are indispensable to extant metabolism and are thought to have had an ancient role in mediating the chemical reactions that led to life. However, there has been no clear proposal for how these inorganic clusters came to occupy such an important position in biology. In this thesis I describe my efforts in delineating a plausible path from short, prebiotically plausible peptides to longer sequences with similar features to modern day iron-sulfur proteins. Small organic thiolates and short cysteine-containing peptides can give rise to [2Fe-2S] and [4Fe-4S] clusters in aqueous solution when irradiated with UV light in the presence of iron ions. Additionally, duplications of tripeptides coordinated iron-sulfur clusters give sequences which are better able to stabilize iron-sulfur clusters, resembling motifs with cysteinyl ligand spacing highly similar to contemporary ferredoxins. Moreover, the studied iron-sulfur clusters are redox active and are able to mimic extant metabolic pathways, such as the first step of the electron transport chain, within protocells favouring the formation of a proton gradient which could be exploited for central biosynthetic processes.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Biomolecular Sciences
PhD Cycle:29
Subjects:Area 03 - Scienze chimiche > CHIM/06 CHIMICA ORGANICA
Area 03 - Scienze chimiche > CHIM/03 CHIMICA GENERALE E INORGANICA
Area 05 - Scienze biologiche > BIO/10 BIOCHIMICA
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