Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Molecular structure of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide


NICOTINAMIDE adenine dinucleotide (NAD) has a fundamental role in metabolic processes as an electron transport molecule. Although its chemical structure was elucidated1 in 1934, its detailed conformation remains still to be established in spite of numerous physicochemical applications2. NAD analogues with a variety of substitutions on the bases are known to retain considerable activity of the natural coenzyme as long as the pyrophosphate diester group has been retained3,4. The geometry of this backbone moiety is therefore indispensable to our understanding of the conformation and function of the coenzyme. We have so far no experimental evidence on this in NAD or any other nucleotide coenzyme molecule. X-ray studies have been possible only on those analogues5,6 where the nicotinamide and adenine rings are linked by a trimethylene bridge. The results are conflicting and it is difficult to use them to provide a structural basis for the NAD molecule itself, particularly as the phosphate backbone is absent from these analogues.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Wardburg, O., and Christian, W., Biochem. Z., 274, 112–116 (1934).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Adams, M. J., McPerson, A., Rossmann, M. G., Scheritz, R. N., and Wonacott, A. J., J. molec. Biol., 51, 31–38 (1970).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Colowick, S. P., Eys, J. V., and Park, J. H., in Comprehensive Biochemistry, 14, 1–98 (Academic, New York and London, 1966).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Sund, H., in Biological Oxidations (edit. by Singer, T. P.), 603–639 (Interscience, New York, 1968).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Johnson, P. L., Frank, J. K., and Paul, I. C., J. Am. chem. Soc., 95, 5377–5385 (1973).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Johnson, P. L., Maier, C. A., and Paul, I. C., J. Am. chem. Soc., 95, 5370–5377 (1973).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Viswamitra, M. A., Seshadri, T. P., Post, M. L., and Kennard, O., Nature, 258, 497–501 (1975).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Sundaralingam, M., Fifth Jerusalem Symp. Quantum Chem. Biochem. (edit. by Bergman, E. D., and Pullman, B.), 417 (Israel Academy of Science and Humanities, Jerusalem, 1973).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Kennard, O., et al., Proc. R. Soc., A 325, 401–436 (1971).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Voet, D. J., Am. chem. Soc., 95, 3763–3769 (1973).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Sundaralingam, M., Biopolymers, 7, 821–869 (1969).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

VISWAMITRA, M. Molecular structure of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. Nature 258, 540–542 (1975).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing