Ethylation and isopropylation of guanine in alkaline solution, or of adenine in formic acid, by alkyl methanesulphonates gave the following products: 1-, N2-, 3-, O6-, 7- and 9-alkylguanines; 1-, 3-, 7- and 9-alkyladenines. The products were identified from their characteristic u.v-absorption spectra, by comparison with either known ethyladenines or with the corresponding known methyladenines, and were also characterized by mass spectrometry. Their chromatographic properties on paper, t.l.c. and various columns were determined. DNA was alkylated in neutral solution with 14C-labelled alkyl methanesulphonates and the ratios of the alkylpurines formed were obtained, and compared for alkylation by methyl, ethyl and isopropyl methanesulphonates and by N-methyl-N-nitrosourea. The extents of alkylation at O-6 of guanine relative to those at N-7 of guanine varied with the reactivity of the methylating agents according to the predictions of Swain & Scott (1953) relating nucleophilicity of the groups alkylated with the substrate constants of the alkylating agents. The relative extents of alkylation at N-3 of adenine did not follow this correlation.

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