The kinetics of reaction of 4-chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan with thiol groups at pH values above 5 cannot be accounted for solely on the basis of formation of a single product, the 4-thio derivative. Spectroscopic observations indicate that, in addition to the 4-thio derivative, at least two other products are formed. One of these, referred to as P1, is most likely a reversible complex of thiol compound and 4-chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan of the Meisenheimer type. The other product, P2, which forms primarily when thiol compound is in a large excess, does not appear to result from direct reaction of thiol group and 4-chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan, but may be a reaction of product P1 and thiol compound. The coloured product, P2, will react further with proteins, such as bovine serum albumin and Escherichia coli RNA polymerase. This reaction irreversibly destroys the catalytic activity of RNA polymerase. The implications of these observations for utilization of 4-chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan as a protein-modifying agent are discussed.

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