origin of life

The origin of life’s molecular asymmetry: An astrobiology perspective

Oct 30, 2022
Biopolymers (large molecules operating in living systems, such as DNA or proteins) possess a unique architecture: the arrangement of their atoms in space has the property of specific chirality (or handedness; the word “chiral” comes from Greek for “hands”). How this happened is unknown and solving it is central to understanding the origin of life because the property of homochirality—where all biomolecules of a certain type have the same chirality—allows the biopolymers to adopt stable helical structures. As a result, their helices spiral in only one direction, and this direction is the same for all living organisms.