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Purines are a class of chemical compounds, with various derivatives containing a variation of the same basic structure. Included in this group are guanine and adenine, which are components of nucleic acids.
All naturally occurring purines are a variation on the same basic structure. Derivatives or structurally related compounds include theophylline and caffeine.
Purines play a variety of important roles in the system: For example, they act as messengers in cellular signaling for muscle contraction and nerve conduction. They help rid cells of excess nitrogen.
Purines act as antioxidants, helping to protect cells from agents which cause cancer.
In addition, they work as the information molecules in genes, helping to process the conversion of genes to proteins. They even work as energy transducers, assisting in the conversion of food to energy.