Four Ways to Oligonucleotides Without Phosphoimidazolides
Emergence of the very first RNA or RNA-like oligomers from simple nucleotide precursors is one of the most intriguing questions of the origin of life research. In the current paper, we analyse the mechanism of four non-enzymatic template-free scenarios suggested for the oligomerization of chemically non-modified cyclic and acyclic nucleotides in the literature. We show that amines may have a twofold role in these syntheses: due to their high affinity to bind protons they may activate the phosphorus of the phosphate group via proton transfer reactions, or indirectly they may serve as charge compensating species and influence the self-assembling of nucleotides to supramolecular architectures compatible with the oligomerization reactions. Effect of cations and pH on the reactions is also discussed.