Ab-initio synthesis of amino-acids: An in-silico approach

Stanley L. Miller over looking a spark discharge apparatus 1994.(©RogerRessmeyer/CORBIS)


The Urey-Miller experiment, demonstrated for the first time, the prebiotic synthesis of amino acids. Although this result has been reproduced multiple times experimentally, there have been very few in-silico attempts of the same. Our study explores the role of standard Gibbs free energy change as a key parameter in the in-silico synthesis of Glycine in a Miller-like experiment.

A network theoretic approach is used to model the experiment and simulated annealing is used to scan the reaction space. The model has identified key intermediates of glycine synthesis such as formaldehyde, aminoacetonitrile and produced glycine and alanine through the Strecker amino acid synthesis reaction. Results show that the standard Gibbs free energy of Glycine (−664.58 KJ) was the lowest among all the compounds formed and hence substantiating our hypothesis.