Cytosine (C) is one of the four main bases found in DNA and RNA, along with adenine, guanine, and thymine (uracil in RNA). It is a pyrimidine derivative, with a heterocyclic aromatic ring and two substituents attached (an amine group at position 4 and a keto group at position 2). The nucleoside of cytosine is cytidine. In Watson-Crick base pairing, it forms three hydrogen bonds with guanine.
Cytosine was discovered and named by Albrecht Kossel and Albert Neumann in 1894 when it was hydrolyzed from calf thymus tissues.〔A. Kossel and Albert Neumann (1894) ("Darstellung und Spaltungsprodukte der Nucleïnsäure (Adenylsäure)" ) (Preparation and cleavage products of nucleic acids (adenic acid)), ''Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft zu Berlin'', 27 : 2215-2222. The name "cytosine" is coined on page 2219: ''" … ein Produkt von basischen Eigenschaften, für welches wir den Namen "Cytosin" vorschlagen."'' ( … a product with basic properties, for which we suggest the name "cytosine".)〕 A structure was proposed in 1903, and was synthesized (and thus confirmed) in the laboratory in the same year.
Cytosine recently found use in quantum computation. The first time any quantum mechanical properties were harnessed to process information took place on August 1 in 1998 when researchers at Oxford implemented David Deutsch's algorithm on a two qubit nuclear magnetic resonance quantum computer (NMRQC) based on cytosine.
In March 2015, NASA scientists reported that, for the first time, complex DNA and RNA organic compounds of life, including uracil, cytosine and thymine, have been formed in the laboratory under outer space conditions, using starting chemicals, such as pyrimidine, found in meteorites. Pyrimidine, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the most carbon-rich chemical found in the Universe, may have been formed in red giants or in interstellar dust and gas clouds, according to the scientists.
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