Nucleotides are chemical compounds, the building blocks of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA.

File:Ribose structure 2.png
Ribose structure indicating numbering of carbon atoms. To this is added a phosphate group to make it a nucleotide.

A nucleotide is composed of a nucleobase (nitrogenous base), a five-carbon sugar (either ribose or 2-deoxyribose), and one phosphate group.[1][2] Nucleotides contain either a purine or a pyrimidine base. Ribonucleotides are nucleotides in which the sugar is ribose. Deoxyribonucleotides are nucleotides in which the sugar is deoxyribose.

In DNA, the purine bases are adenine and guanine, while the pyrimidines are thymine and cytosine. RNA uses uracil in place of thymine. Adenine always pairs with thymine by 2 hydrogen bonds, while guanine pairs with cytosine through 3 hydrogen bonds, each due to their unique structures.


  1. Template:Cite book
  2. Alberts B et al 2002. Molecular biology of the cell. 4th ed, Garland Science, 120–121. Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn".