Using Molecules from Meteorites NASA Reproduce DNA Components

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( — March 5, 2015)  — NASA scientists just took another giant leap for mankind, in discovering the way to recreate DNA and RNA key components. Using pyrimidine, a molecule of unknown origin found in meteorites, scientists from NASA’s laboratory in Moffett Field, California, managed to reproduce cytosine, thymine, and uracil, three key components of life found in both DNA and RNA.

“We have demonstrated for the first time that we can make uracil, cytosine, and thymine, all three components of RNA and DNA, non-biologically in a laboratory under conditions found in space,” said Michel Nuevo, research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

In space-like conditions laboratory, scientists applied a frozen sample containing pyrimidine on a cold substrate to discover that such an approach produces these essential life components.

Pyrimidine is a ring-shaped molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen. When exposed to high-energy ultraviolet (UV) photons from a hydrogen lamp, scientists were able to break chemical bonds in the ice’s molecules into fragments. When new fragments then reassembled, the scientists discover they don’t merge back to pyrimidine, however create three new components: uracil, cytosine and thymine.

“The question of life on Earth is still unanswered,” said Christopher Materese, researcher at NASA involved in the experiments. However, he said that “The chemistry of ice exposed to ultraviolet radiation may be an important linking step between what goes on in space and what fell to Earth early in its development.”

NASA researcher Scott Sandford agrees “Nobody really understands how life got started on Earth.” according to him, the experiments suggest that once the Earth formed, many of the building blocks of life were likely present from the beginning.”

“Since we are simulating universal astrophysical conditions, the same is likely wherever planets are formed,” said Sandford.

In August 2011, a report, based on NASA studies with meteorites found on Earth, was published suggesting nucleotides (such as adenine, guanine, xanthine, hypoxanthine, purine, 2,6-diaminopurine, and 6,8-diaminopurine) may have been formed in outer space. The key components of human DNA and RNA, the uracil, cytosine and thymine nucleotides was not found as solo elements in space which lead scientists to look for a question of life origin on Earth elsewhere.

A new discovery from NASA scientists that uracil, cytosine and thymine could derivate from pyrimidine found in meteorites, heated the theory that life on Earth commenced after a meteorite hit the planet.