Spontaneous Oligomerization of Nucleotide Alternatives in Aqueous Solutions
On early Earth, a primitive polymer that could spontaneously form from likely available precursors may have preceded both RNA and DNA as the first genetic material. Here, we report that heated aqueous solutions containing 5-hydroxymethyluracil (HMU) result in oligomers of uracil, heated solutions containing 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (HMC) result in oligomers of cytosine, and heated solutions containing both HMU and HMC result in mixed oligomers of uracil and cytosine. Oligomerization of hydroxymethylated pyrimidines, which may have been abundant on the primitive Earth, might have been important in the development of simple informational polymers.
Smith, Karen E.; House, Christopher H.; Dworkin, Jason P.; and Callahan, Michael P.. (2017). "Spontaneous Oligomerization of Nucleotide Alternatives in Aqueous Solutions". Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, 47(1), 3-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11084-016-9484-3