1. The ethylated nucleosides present in tRNA isolated from the livers of rats treated with 0.5g of l-ethionine/kg body wt. were investigated. Evidence that this tRNA contained N2-ethylguanine, N2N2-diethylguanine, N2-ethyl-N2-methylguanine, 7-ethylguanine, two ethylated pyrimidines and ethylated ribose groups was obtained. 2. Ethylation of bacterial tRNA was catalysed by extracts containing tRNA methylases prepared from rat liver by using S-adenosyl-l-ethionine as an ethyl donor, but the rate of ethylation was 20 times less than the rate of methylation with S-adenosyl-l-methionine as a methyl donor. 3. The principal product of such ethylation in vitro was N2-ethylguanine and traces of the other ethylated guanines and pyrimidines found in tRNA isolated from rats treated with ethionine in vivo were also found. 1-Ethyladenine was not formed, although 1-methyl-adenine is a major product of methylation of bacterial tRNA by these extracts, and 1-ethyladenine was not present in the rat liver tRNA isolated from ethionine-treated animals. 4. After injection of actinomycin D (15mg/kg body wt.) or l-methionine (1.0g/kg body wt.) before the ethionine, ethylation of tRNA was diminished by about 80% but not completely abolished. Administration of 1-aminocyclopentanecarboxylic acid (2.5g/kg body wt.) to inhibit the formation of S-adenosyl-l-ethionine inhibited ethylation of tRNA by 44%. 5. These results suggest that not all of the ethylation of tRNA that occurs in the livers of rats treated with ethionine is mediated by the action of tRNA methylases acting with S-adenosyl-l-ethionine as a substrate, but that this pathway does occur and accounts for a major part of the observed ethylation. 6. The results are discussed with reference to ethionine-induced hepatocarcinogenesis.

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