Aqueous breakdown of aspartate and glutamate to n-ω-amino acids on the parent bodies of carbonaceous chondrites and asteroid RyuguOPEN ACCESS 

Yamei Li, Hiroyuki Kurokawa, Yasuhito Sekine, Yoko Kebukawa, Yuko Nakano, Norio Kitadai, Naizhong Zhang, Xiaofeng Zang, Yuichiro Ueno, Gen Fujimori, Ryuhei nalamura, Kosuke Fujishima and Junko Isa

Science Advances
15 Dec 2023
Vol 9, Issue


“Amino acids in carbonaceous chondrites may have seeded the origin of life on Earth and possibly elsewhere. Recently, the return samples from a C-type asteroid Ryugu were found to contain amino acids with a similar distribution to Ivuna-type CI chondrites, suggesting the potential of amino acid abundances as molecular descriptors of parent body geochemistry. However, the chemical mechanisms responsible for the amino acid distributions remain to be elucidated particularly at low temperatures (<50°C). Here, we report that two representative proteinogenic amino acids, aspartic acid and glutamic acid, decompose to β-alanine and γ-aminobutyric acid, respectively, under simulated geoelectrochemical conditions at 25°C. This low-temperature conversion provides a plausible explanation for the enrichment of these two n-ω-amino acids compared to their precursors in heavily aqueously altered CI chondrites and Ryugu’s return samples. The results suggest that these heavily aqueously altered samples originated from the water-rich mantle of their water/rock differentiated parent planetesimals where protein α-amino acids were decomposed.”