Experimental data for a series of central and simple molecules in biosystems show that some amino acids and a simple sugar molecule have a chiral discrimination in favor of homochirality. Models for segregation of racemic mixtures of chiral amphiphiles and lipophiles in aqueous solutions show that the amphiphiles with an active isomerization kinetics can perform a spontaneous break of symmetry during the segregation and self-assembly to homochiral matter. Based on this observation it is argued that biomolecules with a sufficiently strong chiral discrimination could be the origin of homochirality in biological systems.
Origin of chirality; Origin of Life; Prebiotic self-assambly
The single-handedness of biological molecules has fascinated scientists and laymen alike since Pasteur's first painstaking separation of the enantiomorphic crystals of a tartrate salt more than 150 yr ago. More recently, a number of theoretical and experimental investigations have helped to delineate models for how one enantiomer might have come to dominate over the other from what presumably was a racemic prebiotic world. This article highlights mechanisms for enantioenrichment that include either chemical or physical processes, or a combination of both. The scientific driving force for this work arises from an interest in understanding the origin of life, because the homochirality of biological molecules is a signature of life.
Chemical and/or physical enrichment processes led a prebiotic racemic mixture of molecules to generate living systems in which all sugars and amino acids are right- and left-handed, respectively.
Addition of 3' and 5' terminal phosphates to dApdA causes a decrease in conformational flexibility. pdApdAp has much fewer conformers with energies below 2.5 kcal./mole than dApdA. THE A, B and Watson-Crick (34) helices are the most preferred forms. Other important conformations are in the trans domain of psi. Thus, flexibility in psi as well as in omega and omega, and in the sugar pucker is indicated. The transformation from the B helix to the Watson-Crick helix follows a low energy path. This is significant since Watson-Crick conformations may be important for intercalation into nucleic acid polymers (40-42) above the dimer level. The B helix is preferred over the A form in these large DNA subunits.
The understanding of multi-component mixtures of self-assembling molecules under thermodynamic equilibrium can only be advanced by a combined experimental and theoretical approach. In such systems, small differences in association energy between the various components can be significantly amplified at the supramolecular level via intricate nonlinear effects. Here we report a theoretical investigation of two-component, self-assembling systems in order to rationalize chiral amplification in cooperative supramolecular copolymerizations. Unlike previous models based on theories developed for covalent polymers, the models presented here take into account the equilibrium between the monomer pool and supramolecular polymers, and the cooperative growth of the latter. Using two distinct methodologies, that is, solving mass-balance equations and stochastic simulation, we show that monomer exchange accounts for numerous unexplained observations in chiral amplification in supramolecular copolymerization. In analogy with asymmetric catalysis, amplification of chirality in supramolecular polymers results in an asymmetric depletion of the enantiomerically related monomer pool.
In multi-component mixtures of self-assembling molecules, small differences in association energy between components can be amplified by nonlinear effects. This theoretical investigation of self-assembling systems rationalizes chiral amplification in cooperative supramolecular copolymerizations.
This manuscript introduces the concept of Chiral Ion Mobility Spectrometry (CIMS) and presents examples demonstrating the gas phase separation of enantiomers of a wide range of racemates including pharmaceuticals, amino acids and carbohydrates. CIMS is similar to traditional ion mobility spectrometry (IMS), where gas phase ions, when subjected to a potential gradient are separated at atmospheric pressure due to differences in their shapes and sizes. In addition to size and shape, CIMS separates ions based on their stereospecific interaction with a chiral gas. In order to achieve chiral discrimination by CIMS, an asymmetric environment was provided by doping the drift gas with a volatile chiral reagent. In this study S-(+)-2-butanol was used as a chiral modifier to demonstrate enantiomeric separations of atenolol, serine, methionine, threonine, methyl-α-glucopyranoside, glucose, penicillamine, valinol, phenylalanine, and tryptophan from their respective racemic mixtures.
Natural nucleic acids duplexes formed by Watson–Crick base pairing fold into right-handed helices that are classified in two families of secondary structures, i.e. the A- and B-form. For a long time, these A and B allomorphic nucleic acids have been considered as the ‘non plus ultra’ of double-stranded nucleic acids geometries with the only exception of Z-DNA, a left-handed helix that can be adopted by some DNA sequences. The five-membered furanose ring in the sugar–phosphate backbone of DNA and RNA is the underlying cause of this restriction in conformational diversity. A collection of new Watson–Crick duplexes have joined the ‘original’ nucleic acid double helixes at the moment the furanose sugar was replaced by different types of six-membered ring systems. The increase in this structural and conformational diversity originates from the rigid chair conformation of a saturated six-membered ring that determines the orientation of the ring substituents with respect to each other. The original A- and B-form oligonucleotide duplexes have expanded into a whole family of new structures with the potential for selective cross-communication in a parallel or antiparallel orientation, opening up a new world for information storage and for molecular recognition-directed self-organization.
There is great interest in design and synthesis of small molecules which selectively target specific genes to inhibit biological functions in which particular DNA structures participate. Among these studies, chiral recognition has been received much attention because more evidences have shown that conversions of the chirality and diverse conformations of DNA are involved in a series of important life events. Here, we report that a pair of chiral helical macrocyclic lanthanide (III) complexes, (M)-Yb[LSSSSSS]3+ and (P)-Yb[LRRRRRR]3+, can enantioselectively bind to B-form DNA and show remarkably contrasting effects on GC-rich and AT-rich DNA. Neither of them can influence non-B-form DNA, nor quadruplex DNA stability. Our results clearly show that P-enantiomer stabilizes both poly(dG-dC)2 and poly(dA-dT)2 while M-enantiomer stabilizes poly(dA-dT)2, however, destabilizes poly(dG-dC)2. To our knowledge, this is the best example of chiral metal compounds with such contrasting preference on GC- and AT-DNA. Ligand selectively stabilizing or destabilizing DNA can interfere with protein–DNA interactions and potentially affect many crucial biological processes, such as DNA replication, transcription and repair. As such, bearing these unique capabilities, the chiral compounds reported here may shed light on the design of novel enantiomers targeting specific DNA with both sequence and conformation preference.
Mutation of amino acid sequences in a protein may have diverse effects on its structure and function. Point mutations of even a single amino acid residue in the helices of the non-redundant database may lead to sequentially identical peptides which adopt different secondary structures in different proteins. However, various physico-chemical factors which govern the formation of these ambivalent helices generated by point mutations of a sequence are not clearly known.
Sequences generated by point mutations of helices are mapped on to their non-helical counterparts in the SCOP database. The results show that short helices are prone to transform into non-helical conformations upon point mutations. Mutation of amino acid residues by helix breakers preferentially yield non-helical conformations, while mutation with residues of intermediate helix propensity display least preferences for non-helical conformations. Differences in the solvent accessibility of the mutating/mutated residues are found to be a major criteria for these sequences to conform to non-helical conformations. Even with minimal differences in the amino acid distributions of the sequences flanking the helical and non-helical conformations, helix-flanking sequences are found be more solvent accessible.
All types of mutations from helical to non-helical conformations are investigated. The primary factors attributing such changes in conformation can be: i) type/propensity of the mutating and mutant residues ii) solvent accessibility of the residue at the mutation site iii) context/environment dependence of the flanking sequences. The results from the present study may be used to design de novo proteins via point mutations.
Chirality can be exploited to gain insight into enantioselective fate processes that may otherwise remain undetected because only biological, but not physical and chemical transport and transformation processes in an achiral environment will change enantiomer compositions. This review provides an in-depth overview of the application of chirality to the study of chiral polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), an important group of legacy pollutants. Like other chiral compounds, individual PCB enantiomers may interact enantioselectively (or enantiospecifically) with chiral macromolecules, such as cytochrome P-450 enzymes or ryanodine receptors, leading to differences in their toxicological effects and the enantioselective formation of chiral biotransformation products. Species and congener-specific enantiomer enrichment has been demonstrated in environmental compartments, wildlife and mammals, including humans, typically due to a complex combination of biotransformation processes and uptake via the diet by passive diffusion. Changes in the enantiomer composition of chiral PCBs in the environment have been used to understand complex aerobic and anaerobic microbial transformation pathways, to delineate and quantify PCB sources and transport in the environment, to gain insight into the biotransformation of PCBs in aquatic food webs, and to investigate the enantioselective disposition of PCBs and their methylsulfonyl PCBs metabolites in rodents. Overall, changes in chiral signatures are powerful, but currently underutilized tools for studies of environmental and biological processes of PCBs.
One of the most attractive hypothesis for the origin of homochirality in terrestrial bioorganic compounds is that a kind of “chiral impulse” as an asymmetric excitation source induced asymmetric reactions on the surfaces of such materials such as meteorites or interstellar dusts prior to the existence of terrestrial life (Cosmic Scenario). To experimentally introduce chiral structure into racemic films of amino acids (alanine, phenylalanine, isovaline, etc.), we irradiated them with linearly polarized light (LPL) from synchrotron radiation and circularly polarized light (CPL) from a free electron laser. After the irradiation, we evaluated optical anisotropy by measuring the circular dichroism (CD) spectra and verified that new Cotton peaks appeared at almost the same peak position as those of the corresponding non-racemic amino acid films. With LPL irradiation, two-dimensional anisotropic structure expressed as linear dichroism and/or linear birefringence was introduced into the racemic films. With CPL irradiation, the signs of the Cotton peaks exhibit symmetrical structure corresponding to the direction of CPL rotation. This indicates that some kinds of chiral structure were introduced into the racemic film. The CD spectra after CPL irradiation suggest the chiral structure should be derived from not only preferential photolysis but also from photolysis-induced molecular structural change. These results suggest that circularly polarized light sources in space could be associated with the origin of terrestrial homochirality; that is, they would be effective asymmetric exciting sources introducing chiral structures into bio-organic molecules or complex organic compounds.
chirality; circularly polarized light; amino acids; solid films; synchrotron radiation; free electron laser; origin of terrestrial homochirality
Raman and Raman optical activity (ROA) spectra were collected for four RNA oligonucleotides based on the EMCV IRES Domain I to assess the contributions of helix, GNRA tetraloop, U·C mismatch base pair and pyrimidine-rich bulge structures to each. Both Raman and ROA spectra show overall similarities for all oligonucleotides, reflecting the presence of the same base paired helical regions and GNRA tetraloop in each. Specific bands are sensitive to the effect of the mismatch and asymmetric bulge on the structure of the RNA. Raman band changes are observed that reflect the structural contexts of adenine residues, disruption of A-form helical structure, and incorporation of pyrimidine bases in non-helical regions. The ROA spectra are also sensitive to conformational mobility of ribose sugars, and verify a decrease in A-type helix content upon introduction of the pyrimidine-rich bulge. Several Raman and ROA bands also clearly show cooperative effects between the mismatch and pyrimidine-rich bulge motifs on the structure of the RNA. The complementary nature of Raman and ROA spectra provides detailed and highly sensitive information about the local environments of bases, and secondary and tertiary structures, and has the potential to yield spectral signatures for a wide range of RNA structural motifs.
Understanding the chirality induction and amplification processes, and the construction of globally homochiral surfaces, represent essential challenges in surface chirality studies. Here we report the induction of global homochirality in two-dimensional enantiomorphous networks of achiral molecules via co-assembly with chiral co-absorbers. The scanning tunnelling microscopy investigations and molecular mechanics simulations demonstrate that the point chirality of the co-absorbers transfers to organizational chirality of the assembly units via enantioselective supramolecular interactions, and is then hierarchically amplified to the global homochirality of two-dimensional networks. The global homochirality of the network assembly shows nonlinear dependence on the enantiomeric excess of chiral co-absorber in the solution phase, demonstrating, for the first time, the validation of the ‘majority rules’ for the homochirality control of achiral molecules at the liquid/solid interface. Such an induction and nonlinear chirality amplification effect promises a new approach towards two-dimensional homochirality control and may reveal important insights into asymmetric heterogeneous catalysis, chiral separation and chiral crystallization.
The construction of homochiral surfaces may play a significant role in applications including heterogeneous catalysis and bio-sensors. Here, globally homochiral two-dimensional assemblies of achiral molecules are formed via co-assembly with chiral co-adsorbers, demonstrating a ‘majority rules’ effect.
The surfaces of minerals could serve important catalytic roles in the prebiotic syntheses of organic molecules, such as amino acids. Thus, the surface chirality is responsible for the asymmetric syntheses of biomolecules. Here, we show induction of the surface chirality of copper metal film by electrodeposition via electrochemical cell rotation in magnetic fields. Such copper film electrodes exhibit chiral behaviour in the electrochemical reaction of alanine enantiomers, and the rotating direction allows control of the chiral sign. These findings are discussed in connection with the asymmetric influence of the system rotation on the magnetohydrodynamic micro-vortices around the electrode surfaces.
Metal ions are crucial for nucleic acid folding. From the free energy landscapes, we investigate the detailed mechanism for ion-induced collapse for a paradigm system: loop-tethered short DNA helices. We find that Na+ and Mg2+ play distinctive roles in helix–helix assembly. High [Na+] (>0.3 M) causes a reduced helix–helix electrostatic repulsion and a subsequent disordered packing of helices. In contrast, Mg2+ of concentration >1 mM is predicted to induce helix–helix attraction and results in a more compact and ordered helix–helix packing. Mg2+ is much more efficient in causing nucleic acid compaction. In addition, the free energy landscape shows that the tethering loops between the helices also play a significant role. A flexible loop, such as a neutral loop or a polynucleotide loop in high salt concentration, enhances the close approach of the helices in order to gain the loop entropy. On the other hand, a rigid loop, such as a polynucleotide loop in low salt concentration, tends to de-compact the helices. Therefore, a polynucleotide loop significantly enhances the sharpness of the ion-induced compaction transition. Moreover, we find that a larger number of helices in the system or a smaller radius of the divalent ions can cause a more abrupt compaction transition and a more compact state at high ion concentration, and the ion size effect becomes more pronounced as the number of helices is increased.
This work concentrates on a novel chiral separation technology named biphasic recognition applied to resolution of α-cyclohexylmandelic acid enantiomers by high-speed counter-current chromatography (HSCCC). The biphasic chiral recognition HSCCC was performed by adding lipophilic (−)-2-ethylhexyl tartrate in the organic stationary phase and hydrophilic hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin in the aqueous mobile phase, which preferentially recognized the (−)-enantiomer and (+)-enantiomer, respectively. The two-phase solvent system composed of n-hexane-methyl tert-butyl ether-water (9:1:10, v/v/v) with the above chiral selectors was selected according to the partition coefficient and separation factor of the target enantiomers. Various parameters involved in the chiral separation were investigated, namely the types of the chiral selector (CS); the concentration of each chiral selector; pH of the mobile phase; and the separation temperature. The mechanism involved in this biphasic recognition chiral separation by HSCCC was discussed. Langmuirian isotherm was employed to estimate the loading limits for each chiral selector. The overall experimental results show that the HSCCC separation of enantiomer based on biphasic recognition is much more efficient than the traditional monophasic recognition chiral separation, since it utilizes the cooperation of both lipophilic and hydrophilic chiral selectors.
Chiral separation; High-speed counter-current chromatography; Biphasic chiral recognition; α-Cyclohexylmandelic acid; Optical activity
An important facet of early biological evolution is the selection of chiral enantiomers for molecules such as amino acids and sugars. The origin of this symmetry breaking is a long-standing question in molecular evolution. Previous models addressing this question include particular kinetic properties such as autocatalysis or negative cross catalysis.
We propose here a more general kinetic formalism for early enantioselection, based on our previously described Graded Autocatalysis Replication Domain (GARD) model for prebiotic evolution in molecular assemblies. This model is adapted here to the case of chiral molecules by applying symmetry constraints to mutual molecular recognition within the assembly. The ensuing dynamics shows spontaneous chiral symmetry breaking, with transitions towards stationary compositional states (composomes) enriched with one of the two enantiomers for some of the constituent molecule types. Furthermore, one or the other of the two antipodal compositional states of the assembly also shows time-dependent selection.
It follows that chiral selection may be an emergent consequence of early catalytic molecular networks rather than a prerequisite for the initiation of primeval life processes. Elaborations of this model could help explain the prevalent chiral homogeneity in present-day living cells.
This article was reviewed by Boris Rubinstein (nominated by Arcady Mushegian), Arcady Mushegian, Meir Lahav (nominated by Yitzhak Pilpel) and Sergei Maslov.
About more than half of the drugs currently in use are chiral compounds and near 90% of the last ones are marketed as racemates consisting of an equimolar mixture of two enantiomers. Although they have the same chemical structure, most isomers of chiral drugs exhibit marked differences in biological activities such as pharmacology, toxicology, pharmacokinetics, metabolism etc. Some mechanisms of these properties are also explained. Therefore, it is important to promote the chiral separation and analysis of racemic drugs in pharmaceutical industry as well as in clinic in order to eliminate the unwanted isomer from the preparation and to find an optimal treatment and a right therapeutic control for the patient. In this article, we review the nomenclature, pharmacology, toxicology, pharmacokinetics, metabolism etc of some usual chiral drugs as well as their mechanisms. Different techniques used for the chiral separation in pharmaceutical industry as well as in clinical analyses are also examined.
analysis; chiral drugs; chiral separation; chiral terms; enantioselective antibodies; metabolism; pharmacokinetics; pharmacology; toxicology
Chiral nanoscale photonic systems typically follow either tetrahedral or helical geometries that require four or more different constituent nanoparticles. Smaller number of particles and different chiral geometries taking advantage of the self-organization capabilities of nanomaterials will advance understanding of chiral plasmonic effects, facilitate development of their theory, and stimulate practical applications of chiroplasmonics. Here we show that gold nanorods self-assemble into side-by-side orientated pairs and “ladders” in which chiral properties originate from the small dihedral angle between them. Spontaneous twisting of one nanorod versus the other one breaks the centrosymmetric nature of the parallel assemblies. Two possible enantiomeric conformations with positive and negative dihedral angles were obtained with different assembly triggers. The chiral nature of the angled nanorod pairs was confirmed by 4π full space simulations and the first example of single-particle CD spectroscopy. Self-assembled nanorod pairs and “ladders” enable the development of chiral metamaterials, (bio)sensors, and new catalytic processes.
Chiral L-malate and achiral succinate ligands have been integrated into a three-dimensional homochiral framework by reacting transition metal cations (Mn2+), L-(-)-malic acid (L-H2ma), succinic acid (H2suc) and 4,4’-bipyridine (4,4’-bipy). Chiral L-malate bonds to Mn2+ without using -OH group, which is unusual for malate. Such unusual bonding of chiral malate results from the cooperative effect of chiral malate and achiral suc ligands during the self-assembly process, further assisted by the third complementary bipyridine ligand.
Cyclohexene nucleic acids (CeNA), which are characterized by the presence of a cyclohexene moiety instead of a natural (deoxy)ribose sugar, are known to increase the thermal and enzymatic stability when incorporated in RNA oligonucleotides. As it has been demonstrated that even a single cyclohexenyl nucleoside, when incorporated in an oligonucleotide, can have a profound effect on the biological activity of the oligonucleotide, further research is warranted to study the complex of such oligonucleotides with target proteins. In order to analyse the influence of CeNA residues onto the helix conformation and hydration of natural nucleic acid structures, a cyclohexenyl-adenine building block (xAr) was incorporated into the Dickerson sequence CGCGA(xAr)TTCGCG. The crystal structure of this sequence determined to a resolution of 1.90 Å. The global helix belongs to the B-type family and shows a water spine, which is partially broken up by the apolar cyclohexene residue. The cyclohexene ring adopts the 2E-conformation allowing a better incorporation of the residue in the dodecamer sequence. The crystal packing is stabilized by cobalt hexamine residues and belongs to space group P2221, never before reported for nucleic acids.
In this article we review the biological activity of analogs of the antitumor drug cisplatin that contain chiral amine ligands. Interaction with DNA and formation of cross-links with adjacent purine bases are considered to be the crucial steps in the antitumor activity of this class of complexes. Because double-helical DNA has a chiral structure, interaction with enantiomeric complexes of platinum should lead to diastereomeric adducts. It has been demonstrated that DNA cross-links of platinum complexes with enantiomeric amine ligands not only can exhibit different conformational features but also can be processed differently by the cellular machinery as a consequence of these conformational differences. These results expand the general knowledge of how the stereochemistry of the platinum-DNA adduct can influence the cell response and contribute to understanding the processes that are crucial for antitumor activity. The steric requirements of the chiral ligands, in terms of configuration and flexibility, are also elucidated.
We discovered for the first time that light can twist
metal to control the chirality of metal nanostructures (hereafter,
chiral metal nanoneedles). The helicity of optical vortices is transferred
to the constituent elements of the irradiated material (mostly melted
material), resulting in the formation of chiral metal nanoneedles.
The chirality of these nanoneedles could be controlled by just changing
the sign of the helicity of the optical vortex. The tip curvature
of these chiral nanoneedles was measured to be <40 nm, which is
less than 1/25th of the laser wavelength (1064 nm). Such chiral metal
nanoneedles will enable us to selectively distinguish the chirality
and optical activity of molecules and chemical composites on a nanoscale
and they will provide chiral selectivity for nanoscale imaging systems
atomic force microscopes), chemical reactions on plasmonic nanostructures,
and planar metamaterials.
Metal nanoneedle; laser ablation; optical vortex; chirality; singular optics
‘Locked nucleic acids’ (LNAs) are known to introduce enhanced bio- and thermostability into natural nucleic acids rendering them powerful tools for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. We present the 1.9 Å X-ray structure of an ‘all LNA’ duplex containing exclusively modified β-d-2′-O-4′C-methylene ribofuranose nucleotides. The helix illustrates a new type of nucleic acid geometry that contributes to the understanding of the enhanced thermostability of LNA duplexes. A notable decrease of several local and overall helical parameters like twist, roll and propeller twist influence the structure of the LNA helix and result in a widening of the major groove, a decrease in helical winding and an enlarged helical pitch. A detailed structural comparison to the previously solved RNA crystal structure with the corresponding base pair sequence underlines the differences in conformation. The surrounding water network of the RNA and the LNA helix shows a similar hydration pattern.
Second-order nonlinear optical imaging of chiral crystals (SONICC) is an emerging technique for crystal imaging and characterization. We provide a brief overview of the origin of second harmonic generation signals in SONICC and discuss recent studies using SONICC for biological applications. Given that they provide near-complete suppression of any background, SONICC images can be used to determine the presence or absence of protein crystals through both manual inspection and automated analysis. Because SONICC creates high-resolution images, nucleation and growth kinetics can also be observed. SONICC can detect metastable, homochiral crystalline forms of amino acids crystallizing from racemic solutions, which confirms Ostwald’s rule of stages for crystal growth. SONICC’s selectivity, based on order, and sensitivity, based on background suppression, make it a promising technique for numerous fields concerned with chiral crystal formation.
second harmonic generation; protein crystallization; drug formulation
While chiral materials are common, few are known that integrate molecular chirality, absolute helicity, and 3-D intrinsically chiral topological nets in one material. Such multi-homochiral features may lead to enhanced chiral recognition processes that are important for enantioselective catalysis or separation. Reported here are a series of 3-D open-framework materials with unusual integration of various homochiral and homohelical features, even in the bulk sample.