Cross-catalytic peptide nucleic acid (PNA) replication based on templated ligation†
We report the first PNA self-replicating system based on template directed cross-catalytic ligation, a process analogous to biological replication. Using two template PNAs and four pentameric precursor PNAs, all four possible carbodiimide assisted amide ligation products were detected and identified by HPLC and MALDI-TOF analysis. We conclude that the two template complementary reaction products are generated via cross-catalysis, while the other two self-complementary (and in principle auto-catalytic) products are formed via intra-complex coupling between the two sets of complementary PNA precursors. Cross-catalytic product formation followed product inhibited kinetics, but approximately two replication rounds were observed. Analogous but less efficient replication was found for a similar tetrameric system. These results demonstrate that simpler nucleobase replication systems than natural oligonucleotides are feasible, thereby strengthening the foundation for the discussion of a possible role for PNA (like) genetic material in the prebiotic evolution of life and lay the ground for further studies into evolution of such potentially prebiotic systems.