Spontaneous Oligomerization of Nucleotide Alternatives in Aqueous Solutions

Karen E. Smith, Christopher H. House, Jason P. Dworkin, Michael P. Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalOrigins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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