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Journal Articles Chemical Society Reviews Year : 2022

Possible chemical and physical scenarios towards biological homochirality

Abstract

The single chirality of biological molecules in terrestrial biology raises more questions than certitudes about its origin. The emergence of biological homochirality (BH) and its connection with the appearance of life have elicited a large number of theories related to the generation, amplification and preservation of a chiral bias in molecules of life under prebiotically relevant conditions. However, a global scenario is still lacking. Here, the possibility of inducing a significant chiral bias “from scratch”, i.e. in the absence of pre-existing enantiomerically-enriched chemical species, will be considered first. It includes phenomena that are inherent to the nature of matter itself, such as the infinitesimal energy difference between enantiomers as a result of violation of parity in certain fundamental interactions, and physicochemical processes related to interactions between chiral organic molecules and physical fields, polarized particles, polarized spins and chiral surfaces. The spontaneous emergence of chirality in the absence of detectable chiral physical and chemical sources has recently undergone significant advances thanks to the deracemization of conglomerates through Viedma ripening and asymmetric auto-catalysis with the Soai reaction. All these phenomena are commonly discussed as plausible sources of asymmetry under prebiotic conditions and are potentially accountable for the primeval chiral bias in molecules of life. Then, several scenarios will be discussed that are aimed to reflect the different debates about the emergence of BH: extra-terrestrial or terrestrial origin (where?), nature of the mechanisms leading to the propagation and enhancement of the primeval chiral bias (how?) and temporal sequence between chemical homochirality, BH and life emergence (when?). Intense and ongoing theories regarding the emergence of optically pure molecules at different moments of the evolution process towards life, i.e. at the levels of building blocks of Life, of the instructed or functional polymers, or even later at the stage of more elaborated chemical systems, will be critically discussed. The underlying principles and the experimental evidence will be commented for each scenario with particular attention on those leading to the induction and enhancement of enantiomeric excesses in proteinogenic amino acids, natural sugars, and their intermediates or derivatives. The aim of this review is to propose an updated and timely synopsis in order to stimulate new efforts in this interdisciplinary field.
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Dates and versions

hal-03632805 , version 1 (06-04-2022)

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Quentin Sallembien, Laurent Bouteiller, Jeanne Crassous, Matthieu Raynal. Possible chemical and physical scenarios towards biological homochirality. Chemical Society Reviews, 2022, 51 (9), pp.3436-3476. ⟨10.1039/D1CS01179K⟩. ⟨hal-03632805⟩
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