Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Possible Mechanism For Creating 'Handedness' In Biological Molecules

Date:
December 2, 2008
Source:
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Summary:
The basic molecules that make up all living things have a predetermined chirality or "handedness," similar to the way people are right or left handed. This chirality has a profound influence on the chemistry and molecular interactions of living organisms. Scientists have discovered a way to induce this handedness in pre-biological molecules.

Argonne chemist Richard Rosenberg examines source material for an experiment to induce chirality into pre-biological systems at the Advanced Photon Source. Rosenberg used X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to measure the secondary electron induced photolysis reaction rate of a model chiral compound adsorbed on a magnetic substrate. He found that changing the magnetization direction in relation to the high-intensity X-ray beam created an excess of one chirality over another.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

The basic molecules that make up all living things have a predetermined chirality or "handedness," similar to the way people are right- or left-handed. This chirality has a profound influence on the chemistry and molecular interactions of living organisms. The inception of chirality from the elementary building blocks of matter is one of the great mysteries of the origin of life.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a way to induce this handedness in pre-biological molecules.

"Understanding how the molecules necessary for life originated is one of the most basic scientific questions in biochemistry," Argonne chemist Richard Rosenberg said. "Chirality plays a fundamental role in biological processes and researchers have been trying to discover the mechanisms that led to this property for years."

Rosenberg used X-rays from the Advanced Photon Source to bombard chiral molecules adsorbed on a magnetic substrate and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to track changes in the molecular bonds.

He found that changing the magnetization direction in relation to the high-intensity X-ray beam created an excess of one chirality over another. Changing the magnetization direction reverses the spin polarization of the secondary, or low-energy, electrons emitted from the substance.

Iron is a common element and is magnetic in many form and ionizing radiation and magnetic fields are prevalent throughout the universe.

Based on the Argonne results, it is conceivable that chirality could have been introduced by irradiation of molecules as they traveled through the universe while adsorbed on a magnetized substrate in a dust cloud, meteor, comet or on a primitive planet.

"Our study shows that spin-polarized secondary electrons interacting with chiral molecules could produce a significant excess of a given chirality in pre-biological molecules," Rosenberg said.

A paper on Rosenberg's work can be seen in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "Possible Mechanism For Creating 'Handedness' In Biological Molecules." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201144735.htm>.
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. (2008, December 2). Possible Mechanism For Creating 'Handedness' In Biological Molecules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201144735.htm
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "Possible Mechanism For Creating 'Handedness' In Biological Molecules." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201144735.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Newsy (July 28, 2014) Stanford University published its findings for a "pure" lithium ion battery that could have our everyday devices and electric cars running longer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins