Adenine is one of the two purine nucleobases used in forming nucleotides of the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. In DNA, adenine binds to thymine via two hydrogen bonds to assist in stabilizing the nucleic acid structures. In RNA, adenine binds to uracil, which is used in the cytoplasm for protein synthesis.
It forms several tautomers, compounds that can be rapidly interconverted and are often considered equivalent. Guanine, a related compounds (also a purine derivative), forms tautomers in the same way, and has more detailed information too.
Chemical structure of adenine
Adenine forms adenosine, a nucleoside, when attached to ribose, and deoxyadenosine when attached to deoxyribose; it forms adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a nucleotide, when three phosphate groups are added to adenosine. Adenosine triphosphate is used in cellular metabolism as one of the basic methods of transferring chemical energy between chemical reactions.
In older literature, adenine was sometimes called Vitamin B4. However it is no longer considered a true vitamin or part of Vitamin B. Some think that, at the origin of life on Earth, the first adenine was formed by the polymerizing of five hydrogen cyanide (HCN) molecules.