Design and synthesis of nucleolipids as possible activated precursors for oligomer formation via intramolecular catalysis: stability study and supramolecular organizationReportar como inadecuado

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Journal of Systems Chemistry

, 5:5

First Online: 09 December 2014Received: 03 April 2014Accepted: 06 October 2014


BackgroundFatty acid vesicles are an important part of protocell models currently studied. As protocells can be considered as pre-biological precursors of cells, the models try to contribute to a better understanding of the cellular origin of life and emphasize on 2 major aspects: compartmentalization and replication. It has been demonstrated that lipid-based membranes are amenable to growth and division shell replication. Furthermore compartmentalization creates a unique micro-environment in which biomolecules can accumulate and reactions can occur. Pioneering research by Sugawara, Deamer, Luisi, Szostak and Rasmussen gave more insight in obtaining autocatalytic, self-replicating vesicles capable of containing and reproducing nucleic acid sequences core replication. Linking both core and shell replication is a challenging feat requiring thorough understanding of membrane dynamics and autocatalytic systems. A possible solution may lie in a class of compounds called nucleolipids, who combine a nucleoside, nucleotide or nucleobase with a lipophilic moiety. Early contributions by the group of Yanagawa mentions the prebiotic significance as a primitive helical template arising from the supramolecular organization of these compounds. Further contributions, exploring the supramolecular scope regarding phospoliponucleosides e.g. 5’-dioleylphosphatidyl derivatives of adenosine, uridine and cytidine can be accounted to Baglioni, Luisi and Berti. This emerging field of amphiphiles is being investigated for surface behavior, supramolecular assembly and even drug ability.

ResultsA series of α-β-hydroxy fatty acids and α-amino fatty acids, covalently bound to nucleoside-5′-monophosphates via a hydroxyl or amino group on the fatty acid was examined for spontaneous self-assembly in spherical aggregates and their stability towards intramolecular cleavage. Staining the resulting hydrophobic aggregates with BODIPY-dyes followed by fluorescent microscopy gave several distinct images of vesicles varying from small, isolated spheres to higher order aggregates and large, multimicrometer sized particles. Other observations include rod-like vesicle precursors. NMR was used to assess the stability of a representative sample of nucleolipids. 1D P NMR revealed that β-hydroxy fatty acids containing nucleotides were pH-stable while the α-analogs are acid labile. Degradation products identified by H-P heteroTOCSY revealed that phosphoesters are cleaved between sugar and phosphate, while phosphoramidates are also cleaved at the lipid-phosphate bond. For the latter compounds, the ratio between both degradation pathways is influenced by the nucleobase moiety. However no oligomerization of nucleotides was observed; nor the formation of 3′-5′-cyclic nucleotides, possible intermediates for oligonucleotide synthesis.

ConclusionsThe nucleolipids with a deoxyribose sugar moiety form small or large vesicles, rod-like structures, vesicle aggregates or large vesicles. Some of these aggregates can be considered as intermediate forms in vesicle formation or division. However, we could not observe nucleotide polymerization or cyclic nucleotide function of these nucleolipids, regardless of the sugar moiety that is investigated deoxyribose, ribose, xylose. To unravel this observation, the chemical stability of the constructs was studied. While the nucleolipids containing β-hydroxy fatty acids are stable as well in base as in acid circumstances, others degraded in acidic conditions. Phosphoramidate nucleolipids hydrolyzed by P-N as well as P-O bond cleavage where the ratio between both pathways depends on the nucleobase. Diester constructs with an α-hydroxy stearic acid degraded exclusively by hydrolysis of the 5′-O-nucleoside ester bond. As the compounds are too stable and harsh conditions would destruct the material itself, more reactive species such as lipid imidazolates of nucleotides need to be synthesized to further analyze the potential polymerization process.

Open image in new windowKeywordsNucleolipid Vesicles Hydroxy fatty acids Protocell Chemical stability Supramolecular assembly Intramolecular catalysis Fluorescence microscopy BODIPY NMR stability study Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s13322-014-0005-3 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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