Nucleic Acids

E A Carrey, Institute of Child Health, London, UK acids. It describes the toxicity that may arise from

H A Simmonds, Guy's Hospital, London, UK degradation of both endogenous and dietary (exo-

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. gen°us) nudeic acids in humans and provi^ a summary of the nucleic acid content of foods.

The nucleic acids, vital constituents of all living cells, were discovered by Miescher in 1868 and isolated from the nuclei of pus cells and spermatozoa of Rhine salmon. The major constituents of nucleic acids were shown to be sugars, phosphate groups, and the characteristic purine and pyrimidine bases, now considered to be some of the first chemicals to emerge from the 'primordial soup' before life began on Earth. Emil Fischer and colleagues established the chemical structure of the purine bases, including uric acid—the end (waste) product of purine metabolism in humans—at the end of the nineteenth century.

This article outlines the biosynthesis of nucleic acids and gives a brief overview of the physiological functions of nucleosides, nucleotides, and nucleic

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