Solving a chirality mystery
Understanding how the molecules necessary for life originated is one of the most basic scientific problems in modern biochemistry. Researchers using the XSD 4-ID-C beamline at the APS have demonstrated that the natural electron spin filtering properties of one of life’s most basic molecules — DNA — can lead to chiral enhancement, which drives the molecular preference for a particular chirality.
These researchers have shown how a preferred chirality can be introduced into organic molecules. This is achieved via reactions induced by spin-polarized secondary electrons that are produced from the filtering of unpolarized electrons by organized layers of DNA. Such a mechanism could help explain the chiral preference in pre-biological molecules on the early Earth.
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Richard A. Rosenberg, Debabrata Mishra, and Ron Naaman, “Chiral Selective Chemistry Induced by Natural Selection of Spin-polarized Electrons,” Angewandte Chemie. DOI: 10.1002/ange.201501678, Published Online May 7, 2015.
Panchao Yin, Zhi-Ming Zhang, Hongjin Lv, Tao Li, Fadi Haso, Lang Hu, Baofang Zhang, John Bacsa, Yongge Wei, Yanqing Gao, Yu Hou, Yang-Guang Li, Craig L. Hill, En-Bo Wang and Tianbo Liu, “Chiral Recognition and Selection During the Self-assembly Process of Protein-mimic Macroanions,” Nature Communications, Article: 6475. DOI:10.1038/ncomms7475, Published Online March 10, 2015.