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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Pentose \Pen"tose\, n. [Penta- + -ose.] (Chem.) Any of a group of sugars of the formula C5H10O5, such as as arabinose or ribose; -- so called from the five carbon atoms in the molecule. They are not fermented by yeast.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1892, from German Ribose (1891), from Ribonsäure, a tetrahydroxy acid, with first element shortened and arbitrarily rearranged from English arabinose (c.1880), a sugar which is so called because it is formed from gum arabic.


n. (context carbohydrate English) A naturally occurring pentose sugar, which is a component of the nucleosides and nucleotides that comprise the nucleic acid biopolymer, RNA. It is also found in riboflavin.


n. a pentose sugar important as a component of ribonucleic acid


Ribose is a carbohydrate with the formula CHO; specifically, it is a pentose monosaccharide (simple sugar) with linear form H−(C=O)−(CHOH)−H, which has all the hydroxyl groups on the same side in the Fischer projection.

The term may refer to either of two enantiomers. The term usually indicates D-ribose, which occurs widely in nature and is discussed here. Its synthetic mirror image, L-ribose, is not found in nature.

D-Ribose was first reported in 1891 by Emil Fischer. It is a C'-2 carbon epimer of the sugar D- arabinose (both isomers of which are named for their source, gum arabic) and ribose itself is named as a partial rearrangement of letters in the word 'arabinose'.

The ribose β-D-ribofuranose forms part of the backbone of RNA. It is related to deoxyribose, which is found in DNA. Phosphorylated derivatives of ribose such as ATP and NADH play central roles in metabolism. cAMP and cGMP, formed from ATP and GTP, serve as secondary messengers in some signalling pathways.