Protein discovered in meteorite

This paper characterizes the first protein to be discovered in a meteorite. Amino acid polymers previously observed in Acfer 086 and Allende meteorites [1,2] have been further characterized in Acfer 086 via high precision MALDI mass spectrometry to reveal a principal unified structure of molecular weight 2320 Daltons that involves chains of glycine and hydroxy-glycine residues terminated by iron atoms, with additional oxygen and lithium atoms.

What a strange molecular structure of the protein. I’ll have to read the paper, it appears to be heterochiral?
Edit: Nvm, it’s made of glycines which are achiral.


Proteins degrade quickly, right? so how did it get into a meteorite?

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I think their rate of degradation depends on a lot of factors such as exposure to solvent, temperature, and so on. AFAIK it’s pretty cold in outer space.

so how did it get into a meteorite?

If it’s not contamination, presumably it formed there.

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Can proteins form without life?

That’s a big question for sure!

I don’t know a lot about protein structure but the double strand held together by iron/oxygen end caps seems … unusual.

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Yeah same, never seen anything like it.

That is of course the big question, and this might be the first known example if it stands up to scrutiny.

I suppose they call it a protein because it has some peptide bonds. Is that really enough?


I was once taught that the convention is that above 50 amino acids, it goes from a peptide to a protein, and that below 5 it’s just amino acid oligomers. Nobody ever seems to abide by this consistently and it may just have reflected the preference of whoever. In that case this wouldn’t really qualify as it’s “only” 15-17 amino acids long pr chain, though there are two of them they are not continuous.

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