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Membrane alternatives in worlds without oxygen: Creation of an azotosome.

Stevenson J, Lunine J, Clancy P - Sci Adv (2015)

Bottom Line: The lipid bilayer membrane, which is the foundation of life on Earth, is not viable outside of biology based on liquid water.Using molecular simulations, we demonstrate that these membranes in cryogenic solvent have an elasticity equal to that of lipid bilayers in water at room temperature.As a proof of concept, we also demonstrate that stable cryogenic membranes could arise from compounds observed in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, Titan, known for the existence of seas of liquid methane on its surface.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University, 365 Olin Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

ABSTRACT
The lipid bilayer membrane, which is the foundation of life on Earth, is not viable outside of biology based on liquid water. This fact has caused astronomers who seek conditions suitable for life to search for exoplanets within the "habitable zone," the narrow band in which liquid water can exist. However, can cell membranes be created and function at temperatures far below those at which water is a liquid? We take a step toward answering this question by proposing a new type of membrane, composed of small organic nitrogen compounds, that is capable of forming and functioning in liquid methane at cryogenic temperatures. Using molecular simulations, we demonstrate that these membranes in cryogenic solvent have an elasticity equal to that of lipid bilayers in water at room temperature. As a proof of concept, we also demonstrate that stable cryogenic membranes could arise from compounds observed in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, Titan, known for the existence of seas of liquid methane on its surface.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Stretching a hexanenitrile azotosome and a hexane bilayer.The slope of the linear fit is proportional to the area modulus Ka.
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Figure 2: Stretching a hexanenitrile azotosome and a hexane bilayer.The slope of the linear fit is proportional to the area modulus Ka.

Mentions: The comparison between hexane and hexanenitrile is instructive. Plain hexane forms a layer eight times stiffer than hexanenitrile. Furthermore, the hexane bilayer is brittle, as shown in Fig. 2. After a small amount of stretching, it appears to snap. In contrast, the hexanenitrile layer stretches smoothly throughout. The only difference between these two compounds is that hexanenitrile has a polar nitrogen head.


Membrane alternatives in worlds without oxygen: Creation of an azotosome.

Stevenson J, Lunine J, Clancy P - Sci Adv (2015)

Stretching a hexanenitrile azotosome and a hexane bilayer.The slope of the linear fit is proportional to the area modulus Ka.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4644080&req=5

Figure 2: Stretching a hexanenitrile azotosome and a hexane bilayer.The slope of the linear fit is proportional to the area modulus Ka.
Mentions: The comparison between hexane and hexanenitrile is instructive. Plain hexane forms a layer eight times stiffer than hexanenitrile. Furthermore, the hexane bilayer is brittle, as shown in Fig. 2. After a small amount of stretching, it appears to snap. In contrast, the hexanenitrile layer stretches smoothly throughout. The only difference between these two compounds is that hexanenitrile has a polar nitrogen head.

Bottom Line: The lipid bilayer membrane, which is the foundation of life on Earth, is not viable outside of biology based on liquid water.Using molecular simulations, we demonstrate that these membranes in cryogenic solvent have an elasticity equal to that of lipid bilayers in water at room temperature.As a proof of concept, we also demonstrate that stable cryogenic membranes could arise from compounds observed in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, Titan, known for the existence of seas of liquid methane on its surface.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University, 365 Olin Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

ABSTRACT
The lipid bilayer membrane, which is the foundation of life on Earth, is not viable outside of biology based on liquid water. This fact has caused astronomers who seek conditions suitable for life to search for exoplanets within the "habitable zone," the narrow band in which liquid water can exist. However, can cell membranes be created and function at temperatures far below those at which water is a liquid? We take a step toward answering this question by proposing a new type of membrane, composed of small organic nitrogen compounds, that is capable of forming and functioning in liquid methane at cryogenic temperatures. Using molecular simulations, we demonstrate that these membranes in cryogenic solvent have an elasticity equal to that of lipid bilayers in water at room temperature. As a proof of concept, we also demonstrate that stable cryogenic membranes could arise from compounds observed in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, Titan, known for the existence of seas of liquid methane on its surface.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus