DNA Polymerization in Icy Moon Abyssal Pressure Conditions

Paru dans Astrobiology

Carré, L., Henneke, G., Henry, E., Flament, D., Girard, É., Franzetti, B. (2024).

Evidence of stable liquid water oceans beneath the ice crust of moons within the Solar System is of great interest for astrobiology. In particular, subglacial oceans may present hydrothermal processes in their abysses, similarly to terrestrial hydrothermal vents. Therefore, terrestrial extremophilic deep life can be considered a model for putative icy moon extraterrestrial life. However, the comparison between putative extraterrestrial abysses and their terrestrial counterparts suffers from a potentially determinant difference. Indeed, some icy moons oceans may be so deep that the hydrostatic pressure would exceed the maximal pressure at which hydrothermal vent organisms have been isolated. While terrestrial microorganisms that are able to survive in such conditions are known, the effect of high pressure on fundamental biochemical processes is still unclear. In this study, the effects of high hydrostatic pressure on DNA synthesis catalyzed by DNA polymerases are investigated for the first time. The effect on both strand displacement and primer extension activities is measured, and pressure tolerance is compared between enzymes of various thermophilic organisms isolated at different depths.