Nucleotides are molecule
A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

s that, when joined together, make up the structural units of RNA
Ribonucleic acid , or RNA, is one of the three major macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life....

 and DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

. In addition, nucleotides participate in cellular
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

 signaling (cGMP
Cyclic guanosine monophosphate
Cyclic guanosine monophosphate is a cyclic nucleotide derived from guanosine triphosphate . cGMP acts as a second messenger much like cyclic AMP...

 and cAMP
Cyclic adenosine monophosphate
Cyclic adenosine monophosphate is a second messenger important in many biological processes...

), and are incorporated into important cofactors
Cofactor (biochemistry)
A cofactor is a non-protein chemical compound that is bound to a protein and is required for the protein's biological activity. These proteins are commonly enzymes, and cofactors can be considered "helper molecules" that assist in biochemical transformations....

 of enzymatic reactions (coenzyme A
Coenzyme A
Coenzyme A is a coenzyme, notable for its role in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids, and the oxidation of pyruvate in the citric acid cycle. All sequenced genomes encode enzymes that use coenzyme A as a substrate, and around 4% of cellular enzymes use it as a substrate...

In biochemistry, flavin adenine dinucleotide is a redox cofactor involved in several important reactions in metabolism. FAD can exist in two different redox states, which it converts between by accepting or donating electrons. The molecule consists of a riboflavin moiety bound to the phosphate...

Flavin mononucleotide
Flavin mononucleotide , or riboflavin-5′-phosphate, is a biomolecule produced from riboflavin by the enzyme riboflavin kinase and functions as prosthetic group of various oxidoreductases including NADH dehydrogenase as well as cofactor in biological blue-light photo receptors...

, and NADP+). Nucleotide derivatives such as the nucleoside triphosphate
Nucleoside triphosphate
Nucleoside triphosphate is a nucleoside with three phosphates. Natural nucleoside triphosphates include adenosine triphosphate , guanosine triphosphate , cytidine triphosphate , 5-methyluridine triphosphate , and uridine triphosphate . These terms refer to those nucleoside triphosphates that...

s play central roles in metabolism
Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories...

, in which capacity they serve as sources of chemical energy (ATP
Adenosine triphosphate
Adenosine-5'-triphosphate is a multifunctional nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism...

 and GTP
Guanosine triphosphate
Guanosine-5'-triphosphate is a purine nucleoside triphosphate. It can act as a substrate for the synthesis of RNA during the transcription process...

A nucleotide is composed of a nucleobase
Nucleobases are a group of nitrogen-based molecules that are required to form nucleotides, the basic building blocks of DNA and RNA. Nucleobases provide the molecular structure necessary for the hydrogen bonding of complementary DNA and RNA strands, and are key components in the formation of stable...

 (nitrogenous base), a five-carbon sugar (either ribose
Ribose is an organic compound with the formula C5H10O5; specifically, a monosaccharide with linear form H––4–H, which has all the hydroxyl groups on the same side in the Fischer projection....

 or 2'-deoxyribose
Deoxyribose, more, precisely 2-deoxyribose, is a monosaccharide with idealized formula H---3-H. Its name indicates that it is a deoxy sugar, meaning that it is derived from the sugar ribose by loss of an oxygen atom...

), and one phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...