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Ancient DNA Precursors Found in Interstellar Clouds Predate Birth of Our Solar System

Friday, March 1, 2013 10:43
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During the past decade, astrochemists have found that DNA molecules, the fundamental building blocks of life, find their origins not on Earth, but in the Cosmos. They are the languange of the Universe –the information they inherited comes from the stars and the cosmic ecology that formed them. Scientists using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia to study a giant cloud of gas some 25,000 light-years from Earth, near the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, have discovered a molecule thought to be a precursor to a key component of DNA and another that may have a role in the formation of the amino acid alanine.

“Finding these molecules in an interstellar gas cloud means that important building blocks for DNA and amino acids can ‘seed’ newly-formed planets with the chemical precursors for life,” said Anthony Remijan, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
One of the newly-discovered molecules, called cyanomethanimine, is one step in the process that chemists believe produces adenine, one of the four nucleobases that form the “rungs” in the ladder-like structure of DNA. The other molecule, called ethanamine, is thought to play a role in forming alanine, one of the twenty amino acids in the genetic code.

In each case, the newly-discovered interstellar molecules are intermediate stages in multi-step chemical processes leading to the final biological molecule. Details of the processes remain unclear, but the discoveries give new insight on where these processes occur.

More: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/201…C+Tech.%29



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