Self-catalytic mechanism of prebiotic reactions: from formamide to pterins and guanine†
Reaction pathway of prebiotic reactions for formation of the pteridines: pterin, xanthopterine, isoxanthopterine and leucopterine, as well as the purine nucleobase guanine from pure formamide are presented. In these reactions, formamide or its tautomer, formimidic acid, play the role of proton-carrying catalyst. All required raw materials, such as hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, water, formic acid, urea, 2-aminomalononitrile, glyoxal, glyoxylic acid and oxalic acid needed in the self-catalyzed reactions are obtained by partial decomposition of formamide. We show that the prebiotic formation of nucleobases and pterins is closely linked and they probably coexisted at the beginning of chemical evolution.