Chemical Biology Seminar - Prof. John Sutherland, University of Cambridge

Published on November 5, 2015

We are very pleased to announce the lecture of Prof. John Sutherland from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Prof. Sutherland’s research focuses on the biggest remaining question in chemistry and biology: what is the origin of life. His particular research interest within this is the emergence of ‘biological’ molecules in the prebiotic soup. In his presentation, he will combine some amazing chemistry and analysis, but always keeping in mind the philosophical implications of his findings.  We hope that many of you will join us for what will be a great talk that will likely provide a lot of food for thought regarding this biggest of questions. After the talks there will be ample opportunity to speak to Prof. Sutherland over some drinks. If you would like to talk to him before his lecture, please let me (Sander van Kasteren) know.

Leiden Chemical Biology Lectures

Prof. John Sutherland

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

University of Cambridge

"The Origin of Life Systems Chemistry"

Thursday 12th of November 16:30 h

Havinga zaal

Leiden Institute of Chemistry

Abstract: By reconciling previously conflicting views about the origin of life – in which one or other cellular subsystem precedes, and then ‘invents’ the others – a new modus operandi for its study is suggested. Guided by this, a cyanosulfidic protometabolism is uncovered which uses UV light and the stoichiometric reducing power of hydrogen sulfide to convert hydrogen cyanide, and a couple of other prebiotic feedstock molecules which can be derived therefrom, into nucleic acid, peptide and lipid building blocks.Copper plays several key roles in this chemistry, thus, for example, copper(I)-copper(II) photoredox chemistry generates hydrated electrons, and copper(I) catalysed cross coupling and copper(II) driven oxidative cross-coupling reactions generate key feedstock molecules. Geochemical scenarios consistent with this protometabolism are outlined. Finally, the transition of a system from the inanimate to the animate state is considered in the context of there being intermediate stages of partial ‘aliveness’ Kind regards,

The Chemical Biology Seminar Committee

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