The pyrimidine ring system is planar, while the purine system deviates somewhat from planarity in having a slight pucker between its imidazole and pyrim-idine portions. Both are relatively insoluble in water, as might be expected from their pronounced aromatic character.

Common Pyrimidines and Purines

The common naturally occurring pyrimidines are cytosine, uracil, and thymine (5-methyluracil) (Figure 11.3). Cytosine and thymine are the pyrimidines typically found in DNA, whereas cytosine and uracil are common in RNA. To view this generality another way, the uracil component of DNA occurs as the 5-methyl variety, thymine. Various pyrimidine derivatives, such as dihydrouracil, are present as minor constituents in certain RNA molecules.

Adenine (6-amino purine) and guanine (2-amino-6-oxy purine), the two common purines, are found in both DNA and RNA (Figure 11.4). Other naturally occurring purine derivatives include hypoxanthine, xanthine, and uric acid (Figure 11.5). Hypoxanthine and xanthine are found only rarely as constituents of nucleic acids. Uric acid, the most oxidized state for a purine derivative, is never found in nucleic acids.

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