Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Kensei KobayashiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_5352-1


Chemical Formula



Xanthine is one of the purine bases, which is widely distributed in the terrestrial biological system, though it is not included among the canonical five nucleic acid bases. Figure 1 shows a molecular structure of xanthine. Its molecular weight is 152.11. Its nucleoside is xanthosine. It is formed by hydrolysis of guanine or is enzymatically converted from guanine by guanine deaminase. It has been reported that some purine bases and pyrimidine bases including canonical nucleic acid bases existed in extracts from carbonaceous chondrites, but the detected bases have not been the same. Among various purines and pyrimidines, only xanthine was reported to be detected as a major base in Murchison meteorite both by GC/C/MS (Martins et al. 2008) and LC/MS (Callahan et al. 2011).
Fig. 1

Molecular structure of xanthine


References and Further Reading

  1. Callahan MP, Smith KE, Cleaves HJ II, Ruzicka J, Stern JC, Glavine DP, House CH, Dworkin JP (2011) Carbonaceous meteorites contain a wide range of extraterrestrial nucleobases. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108:13995–13998ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Martins Z, Botta O, Fogel ML, Sephton MA, Glavin DP, Watson JS, Dworkin JP, Schwartz AW, Ehrenfreund P (2008) Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite. Earth Planet Sci Lett 270:130–136ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryYokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan