One of the great mysteries of life is its lack of symmetry at the molecular scale. Many biological molecules, like amino acids, exist a priori in two asymmetrical forms, "right” and “left”. Such molecules are referred to as “chiral” . Like the two hands, these forms cannot be superimposed but are mirror images of each other (Fig.). However, in living organisms, proteins are exclusively built up from “left” amino acids. This selection of only one form remains one of the great scientific enigmas, which physicists, chemists and biologists try to solve.
By studying both experimentally and theoretically the folding of simple peptides, made of two amino acids, researchers from the "Service des Photons, Atomes et Molécules/LFP” (CEA-Saclay and CNRS) have obtained new results documenting the issue of chirality of the living world. More...
Chirality-controlled formation of ß-turn secondary structures in short peptide chains: gas-phase experiment versus quantum chemistry, V. Brenner, F. Piuzzi, I. Dimicoli, B. Tardivel, and M. Mons, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 46, (2007) 2463
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