1. The following methods for hydrolysis of methyl-14C-labelled RNA, and for chromatographic isolation and determination of the products, were investigated: enzymic digestion to nucleosides at pH6 or 8; alkaline hydrolysis and conversion into nucleosides; hydrolysis by acid to pyrimidine nucleotides and purine bases, or completely to bases; chromatography on Dowex 50 (NH4+form) at pH6 or 8.9, or on Dowex 50 (H+form), or on Sephadex G-10. 2. The suitability of the various methods for determination of methylation products was assessed. The principal product, 7-methylguanosine, was unstable under the conditions used for determinations of nucleosides. 3- and 7-Methyladenine and 3- and 7-methylguanine are best determined as bases; 1-methyladenine and 3-methylcytosine can be isolated as either nucleosides or bases; O6-methylguanine is unstable under the acid hydrolysis conditions used and can be determined as the nucleoside; 3-methyluracil was detected, but may be derived from methylation of the ionized form of uracil. 3. Differences between the patterns of methylation of RNA and homopolyribonucleotides by the N-methyl-N-nitroso compounds and dimethyl sulphate were found: the nitroso compounds were able to methylate O-6 of guanine, were relatively more reactive at N-7 of adenine and probably at N-3 of guanine, but less reactive at N-1 of adenine, N-3 of cytosine and probably at N-3 of uridine. They probably reacted more with the ribose–phosphate chain, but no products from this were identified. 4. The possible influences of these differences on biological action of the methylating agents is discussed. Nitroso compounds may differ principally in their ability to induce miscoding in the Watson–Crick sense by reaction at O-6 of guanine. Both types of agent may induce miscoding to a lesser extent through methylation at N-3 of guanine; both can methylate N atoms, presumably preventing Watson–Crick hydrogen-bonding. N-Methyl-N-nitrosourea can degrade RNA, possibly through phosphotriester formation, but this mechanism is not proven.

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