The optically pure d- and l-enantiomers of isovaline (I), which cannot be racemized by ordinary chemical mechanisms involving α-hydrogen removal, and which has been isolated in apparently racemic form from the Murchison meteorite, have been subjected to partial radiolysis by the ionizing radiation from a 3000 Ci60Co γ-ray source. Both in the anhydrous and hydrated solid states and as solid sodium or hydrochloride salts each enantiomer suffered significant radioracemization of the undestroyed residue during its partial radiolysis. The sodium salt of isovaline in 0.1 M aqueous solution suffered extensive radiolysis with relatively small radiation doses, but showed no detectable radioracemization. The significance of these observations with respect to the primordial enantiomeric composition of the isovaline (and other amino acids) indigenous to meteroties is discussed. © 1979.
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