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IUPAC name 7H-purine
CAS number 120-73-0
PubChem 1044
MeSH Purine
Molecular formula C5H4N4
Molar mass 120.112
Melting point

214 °C

Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references

Purine (1) is a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound, consisting of a pyrimidine ring fused to an imidazole ring. Purines make up one of the two groups of nitrogenous bases. Pyrimidines make up the other group. These bases make up a crucial part of both deoxyribonucleotides and ribonucleotides, and the basis for the universal genetic code.

The general term purines also refers to substituted purines and their tautomers.

The purine is the most widely distributed nitrogen-containing heterocycle in nature.[1]


Notable purines

The quantity of naturally occurring purines produced on earth is enormous, as 50 % 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. 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.

They may also function directly as neurotransmitters, acting upon purinergic receptors. Adenosine, activates adenosine receptors.


The name 'purine' (purum uricum) was coined by the German chemist Emil Fischer in 1884. He synthesized it for the first time in 1899.[2] The starting material for the reaction sequence was uric acid (8), which had been isolated from gallstones by Scheele in 1776.[3] Uric acid (8) was reacted with PCl5 to give 2,6,8-trichloropurine (10), which was converted with HI and PH4I to give 2,6-diiodopurine (11). This latter product was reduced to purine (1) using zinc-dust.


Main article: Purine metabolism

Many organisms have metabolic pathways to synthesize and break down purines.

Purines are biologically synthesized as nucleosides (bases attached to ribose).

Food Sources

Purines are found in high concentration in meat and meat products, especially internal organs such as liver and kidney. Plant based diet is generally low in purines [3].

Examples of high purine sources include: sweetbreads, anchovies, sardines, liver, beef kidneys, brains, meat extracts (e.g Oxo, Bovril), herring, mackerel, scallops, game meats, and gravy.

A moderate amount of purine is also contained in beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, green peas, lentils, dried peas, beans, oatmeal, wheat bran and wheat germ.[4]

Moderate intake of purine-containing food is not associated with an increased risk of gout.[5]


Purine (1) is obtained in good yield when formamide is heated in an open vessel at 170 oC for 28 hours.[6]

Procedure:[6] Formamide (45 gram) was heated in an open vessel with a condenser for 28 hours in an oil bath at 170-190 oC. After removing excess formamide (32.1 gram) by vacuum distillation, the residue was refluxed with methanol. The methanol solvent was filtered, the solvent removed from the filtrate by vacuum distillation, and almost pure purine obtained; yield 4.93 gram (71 % yield from formamide consumed). Crystallization from acetone afforded purine as colorless crystals; melting point 218 oC.

Oro, Orgel and co-workers have shown that four molecules of HCN tetramerize to form diaminomaleodinitrile (12), which can be converted into almost all important natural occurring purines.[7][8][9][10][11]


  1. ^ Rosemeyer, H. Chemistry & Biodiversity 2004, 1, 361.
  2. ^ Fischer, E. Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft 1899, 32, 2550.
  3. ^ Scheele, V. Q. Examen Chemicum Calculi Urinari, Opuscula, 1776, 2, 73.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ a b Yamada, H.; Okamoto, T. Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 1972, 20, 623.
  7. ^ Sanchez, R. A.; Ferris, J. P.; Orgel, L. E. Journal of Molecular Biology, 1967, 30, 223.
  8. ^ Ferris, J. P.; Orgel, L. E. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 1966, 88, 1074.
  9. ^ Ferris, J. P.; Kuder, J. E.; Catalano, O. W. Science, 1969, 166, 765.
  10. ^ Oro, J.; Kamat, J. S. Nature, 1961, 190, 442.
  11. ^ Houben-Weyl, Vol . E5, p. 1547

See also

Nucleobases: Purine (Adenine, Guanine) | Pyrimidine (Uracil, Thymine, Cytosine)
Nucleosides: Adenosine/Deoxyadenosine | Guanosine/Deoxyguanosine | Uridine | Thymidine | Cytidine/Deoxycytidine
Nucleotides: monophosphates (AMP, GMP, UMP, CMP) | diphosphates (ADP, GDP, UDP, CDP) | triphosphates (ATP, GTP, UTP, CTP) | cyclic (cAMP, cGMP, cADPR)
Deoxynucleotides: monophosphates (dAMP, dGMP, TMP, dCMP) | diphosphates (dADP, dGDP, TDP, dCDP) | triphosphates (dATP, dGTP, TTP, dCTP)
Ribonucleic acids: RNA | mRNA (pre-mRNA/hnRNA) | tRNA | rRNA | gRNA | miRNA | ncRNA | piRNA | shRNA | siRNA | snRNA | snoRNA
Deoxyribonucleic acids: DNA | cDNA | gDNA | msDNA | mtDNA
Nucleic acid analogues: GNA | LNA | PNA | TNA | morpholino
Cloning vectors: phagemid | plasmid | lambda phage | cosmid | P1 phage | fosmid | BAC | YAC | HAC
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Purine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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