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Special Issue "Ribose Selected as Precursor to Life"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Biochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Gaspar Banfalvi
Guest Editor
Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Microbiology, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
Interests: DNA replication; structure of RNA primer; cell cycle synchronization; chromatin condensation; animal tumor models; metastasis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is with honor and pleasure that I announce a call for submissions to a Special Issue of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences on the topic of “Ribose Selected as Precursor to Life”. Present day life on Earth takes place exclusively in cells with the hereditary information that proceeds from DNA through RNA to protein. The RNA world hypothesis assumes that RNA was the first type of genetic information that existed on Earth before modern cells arose. The DNA empire took over the role of primary genetic information much later during evolution, whereas proteins joined in even later. The major question in the Special Issue is how, in the absence of proteins, DNA and nucleotides RNA could have been synthesized from simple abiotic compounds? We encourage the submission of original research and theoretical papers that couple the formose reaction to the synthesis of the sugar–phosphate polynucleotide chains containing nucleobases. Other challenging questions that remain to be answered are on the (1) phosphorylation of ribose; (2) polymerization of ribose phosphate(s); (3) attachment of nucleobases to the sugar–phosphate backbone to generate non-genetic preRNA; (4) hydrolysis of polynucleotide chains and the formation of nucleotides; and (5) selection of nucleotides for the synthesis of genetic RNA. We welcome submissions that attempt to clarify these details. Authors are requested to indicate the step(s) of abioticRNA synthesis their paper refers  to.

All submitted articles will undergo peer review.

Prof. Gaspar Banfalvi
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • abiotic precursors
  • origin of ribose formation
  • importance of ribose synthesis
  • phosphorylation of ribose
  • polymerization of ribose phosphate
  • attachment of nucleobases to backbone polymer
  • prebiotic fate of aldopentoses
  • preRNA synthesis
  • hydrolytic products of preRNA
  • formation of NTP substrates
  • genRNA synthesis

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessReview
Prebiotic Pathway from Ribose to RNA Formation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(8), 3857; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22083857 - 08 Apr 2021
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At the focus of abiotic chemical reactions is the synthesis of ribose. No satisfactory explanation was provided as to the missing link between the prebiotic synthesis of ribose and prebiotic RNA (preRNA). Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is assumed to have been the principal precursor [...] Read more.
At the focus of abiotic chemical reactions is the synthesis of ribose. No satisfactory explanation was provided as to the missing link between the prebiotic synthesis of ribose and prebiotic RNA (preRNA). Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is assumed to have been the principal precursor in the prebiotic formation of aldopentoses in the formose reaction and in the synthesis of ribose. Ribose as the best fitting aldopentose became the exclusive sugar component of RNA. The elevated yield of ribose synthesis at higher temperatures and its protection from decomposition could have driven the polymerization of the ribose-phosphate backbone and the coupling of nucleobases to the backbone. RNA could have come into being without the involvement of nucleotide precursors. The first nucleoside monophosphate is likely to have appeared upon the hydrolysis of preRNA contributed by the presence of reactive 2′-OH moieties in the preRNA chain. As a result of phosphorylation, nucleoside monophosphates became nucleoside triphosphates, substrates for the selective synthesis of genRNA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ribose Selected as Precursor to Life)
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