The Chemical Biology of Carbon
This chapter introduces carbon chemical biology as the organic chemistry of life, no more and no less than the carbon-based molecules and reactions that sustain life. The chapter introduces tetravalent carbon, and the functional groups that occur commonly in metabolites with C–O, C–N, and C–S bonds. The commonly accessible carbon nucleophiles and carbon electrophiles, needed for C–C bond formations and breakages, are identified. The four main types of reaction intermediates/transition states that can occur in carbon chemical biology involve carbanions and carbocations in heterolytic reaction paths, carbon-centered radicals in homolytic pathways, and pericyclic reactions where there are no intermediates between a reactant and product. Heterocyclic rings are called out as essential building blocks that will be featured in subsequent chapters.