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A purine is a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound, consisting of a pyrimidine ring fused to an imidazole ring. Purines, including substituted purines and their tautomers, are the most widely distributed kind of nitrogen-containing heterocycle in nature.
Purines and pyrimidines make up the two groups of nitrogenous bases, including the two groups of nucleotide bases. Two of the four deoxyribonucleotides and two of the four ribonucleotides, the respective building blocks of DNA and RNA, are purines.
The quantity of naturally occurring purines produced on earth is huge. About half of the bases in nucleic acids, adenine (2) and guanine (3), are purines. In DNA, these bases form hydrogen bonds with their complementary pyrimidines thymine and cytosine, respectively. This is called complementary base pairing. In RNA, the complement of adenine is uracil (U) instead of thymine.
Other notable purines are hypoxanthine (4), xanthine (5), theobromine (6), caffeine (7), uric acid (8) and isoguanine (9).
Aside from DNA and RNA, purines are biochemically significant components in a number of other important biomolecules, such as ATP, GTP, cyclic AMP, NADH, and coenzyme A. Purine (1) itself, has not been found in nature, but it can be produced by organic synthesis.
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