Chirality is a fundamental, persistent, but often overlooked feature of all living organisms on the molecular level as well as on the macroscopic scale. The high degree of preference for only one of two possible mirror image forms in Nature, often called biological homochirality is a puzzling, and not yet fully understood, phenomenon.

This book covers biological homochirality from an interdisciplinary approach - contributions range from synthetic chemists, theoretical topologists and physicists, from palaeontologists and biologists to space scientists and representatives of the pharmaceutical and materials industries.

Topics covered include - theory of biochirality, origins of biochirality, autocatalysis with amplification of chirality, macroscopic (present) biochirality, fossil records of chiral organisms - paleochirality, extraterrestrial origin of chirality, exceptions to the rule of biological homochirality, D-amino acids, chemical transfer of chirality, PV effects, and polarised radiation chemistry.


Chemists, theoretical topologists, physicists, palaeontologists, biologists, space scientists and pharmaceutical and materials industries with an interest in chirality

Table of Contents

Chapter headings: Preface. (C. Bartolacelli). Dimensions of Biological Homochirality (G. Pályi et al.). Chirality Algebra and the Right-left Classification Problem (R.B. King). Theory of Biological Homochirality: Chirality, Symmetry Deficiency, and Electron-cloud Holography in the Shape Analysis of Biomolecules (P.G. Mezey). On the Biological Advantage of Chirality (G. Gilat). Origin of Biological Homochirality: Directed Selection or Random Motion? (V.A. Avetisov). Possible Mechanisms for Spontaneous Production of Enantiomeric Excess (D.Z. Lippmann, J. Dix). Search for the Origin of Homochirality of Biomolecules (L. Keszthelyi).The Role of Homochirality in Evolution (Z. Nansheng). A New Method for Testing Molecules of Prebiotic Peptide Assembly (M. Bengtson, E. Edstrom). Asymmetric Autocatalysis and Biomolecular Chirality (K. Soai, T. Shibata). Left-right Asymmetry in Animal Embryogenesis (M. Levin). Evolutionary Origin of Asymmetry in Early Metazoans (J. Dzik). Chirality in Charophytes: Stability and Evolution from 400 million Years to Present (I. Soulié-Märsche). Application of Amino Acid Racemization in Fossil Pleistocene Vertebrate and Invertebrate Analysis. Preservation of Proteins and Amino Acids (T. de Torres). Biomarker Reaction Kinetics during Kerogen Microscale Pyrolysis (G.D. Abbott, A.W. Scott). Aspartic Acid Racemization in the Dentine of Bears. Tooth Dentine Amino Acids versus Mollusca Amino Acids (T. de Torres et al.). The Abiotic Generation of Homochirality on Saturn's moon Titan (J.I. Lunine et al.). D-Amino Acids in Nature (Y. Nagata). Racemization-induced Defolding and Aggregation of Segments of &bgr;-Amyloid Protein: An Early Step in the Formation of Amyloid Plaques (Zs. Majer et al.) Occurrence and Biosynthesis of Animal Peptides Containing a D-Amino Acid (G. Kreil). Spontaneous D-Aspartic Acid Formation at Specific Sites of Lens Protein During Aging (N. Fujii


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© 1999
Elsevier Science
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About the authors

C. Zucchi

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Chemistry, University of Modena, Via Campi 183, I-41100 Modena, Italy

L. Caglioti

Affiliations and Expertise

"La Sapienza", P.le A. Moro 5, 1-00185 Rome, Italy

Gyula Palyi

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Chemistry, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy


"Every chemist working with chiral compounds and also every biologist has obviously already asked the question: "How did the molecular and macroscopic homochirality of biological systems evolve starting from a racemic prebiological world? And furthermore, how perfect is this homochirality and what are its general consequences?" This book which is based on the contributions presented at an international symposium on biological homochirality offers the first comprehensive review of these fundamental questions of biochirality. It is a real gold mine of ideas for further research to everybody interested in this very far-reaching subject including chemists, biologists, physicists, geologists and even cosmochemists." --László Markó, University of Veszprem, Hungary