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Sulfur Chemistry May Have Paved the Way for Evolution of Antioxidants
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology.
NASA Ames Research Center, USA; SETI Institute, USA. (NASA SETI)
2020 (English)In: Astrobiology, ISSN 1531-1074, E-ISSN 1557-8070, Vol. 20, no 5Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The first organisms on the young Earth, just 1–1.5 billion year old, were likely chemolithoautotrophic anaerobes, thriving in an anoxic world rich in water, CO2, and N2. It is generally assumed that, until the accumulation of O2 in the atmosphere, life was exempted from the oxidative stress that reactive oxygen species (ROS) impose on hydrocarbon-based life. Therefore, it is perplexing to note that life on the early Earth already carried antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase enzymes, catalase, and peroxiredoxins, the function of which is to counteract all forms of ROS, including H2O2. Phylogenetic investigations suggest that the presence of these enzymes in the last universal common ancestor, far predating the great oxygenation event (GOE) sometime between 2.3 and 2.7 billion years ago, is thought to be due to the appearance of oxygen-producing microorganisms and the subsequent need to respond to the appearance of ROS. Since the metabolic enzymes that counteract ROS have been found in all domains of life, they are considered of primitive origin. Two questions arise: (1) Could there be a nonbiological source of ROS that predates the oxygenic microbial activity? (2) Could sulfur, the homologue of oxygen, have played that role? Reactive sulfur species (RSS) may have triggered the evolution of antioxidants such that the ROS antioxidants started out as “antisulfur” enzymes developed to cope with, and take advantage of, various forms of RSS that were abundantly present on the early Earth.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 20, no 5
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Biological Sciences
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-401611DOI: 10.1089/ast.2019.2156OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-401611DiVA, id: diva2:1383645
Available from: 2020-01-08 Created: 2020-01-08 Last updated: 2020-01-15Bibliographically approved

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Neubeck, Anna

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