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Office: ES&T 1326





Research Project: Ester-Mediate Amide Bond Formation as a Possible Path to Polypeptide on the Early Earth


The results of the Miller-Urey experiments and meteorite investigations have provided evidence that amino acids, the building blocks of peptides, existed on the prebiotic earth. However, a prebiotically plausible process for the polymerization of amino acids is still unclear. The polycondensation of amino acids is unfavorable in aqueous solution, elevated temperature and chemical activation agents are necessary to assist the process.


My research focuses on one reaction that can be the plausible pathway for the formation of prebiotic oligopeptide on the early earth. We found that the addition of hydroxy acids can assist the formation of peptide bonds under a relatively mild condition. Hydroxy acids form metastable oligoesters in an oscillating (hot dry/cool wet) system and transit into mixed ester-amide oligomers via the ester-amide exchange reaction. The identification of copolymer products (depsipeptides) was done by using state of the art ion mobility-mass spectrometry. 40% yield of peptide bonds can be achieved by our process.








-You can also find this research on Georgia Tech Research News.




Besides experimental work, I am also interested in developing a kinetic model to simulate the polymerization in the cycling environment and studying other possible emerging properties of depsipeptides.

This project is in collaboration with Dr. Jay G. Forsythe in Georgia Tech and advised by Prof. Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, Prof. Facundo M. Fernández, F. Joseph Schork and Nicholas V. Hud. My research is also part of NASA/NSF Center of Chemical Evolution.



l   Forsythe, J. G., Yu, S. S., Mamajanov, I., Grover, M. A., Krishnamurthy, R., Fernández, F. M., & Hud, N. V. (2015). EsterMediated Amide Bond Formation Driven by Wet-Dry Cycles: A Possible Path to Polypeptides on the Prebiotic Earth. Angewandte Chemie International Edition.



l   Current Ph.D. student in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech.

l   B.S. in Chemical Engineering, National Tsing-Hua University, (2007-2011)


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