1. The interaction at room temperature of thiols (cysteine and certain of its derivatives, and glutathione) with N-alkyl-N-nitrosourethanes and with diazomethane gave complicated mixtures of products. 2. S-Methylcysteine and S-ethoxycarbonylcysteine, the main products of the reaction between cysteine and N-methyl-N-nitrosourethane, were isolated and unequivocally identified. Paper-chromatographic and other evidence was used for the identification of several other components of the mixtures of products obtained. 3. S-Methyl derivatives and their methyl esters were the common products formed from the thiol compounds with both N-methyl-N-nitrosourethane and with diazomethane. 4. The esters were unstable and hydrolysed readily. 5. S-Ethoxycarbonyl derivatives, the primary products of the reaction of the thiols with N-alkyl-N-nitrosourethanes, isomerized to the respective N-ethoxycarbonyl derivatives when the pH increased above 7.0; the migration of the ethoxycarbonyl group from S to N was particularly easy with cysteine, probably owing to the spatial proximity of the amino group. 6. It is suggested that the non-enzymic reactions in vitro of thiols with both N-methyl-N-nitrosourethane and diazomethane may represent models for events in vivo and might help in the studies of the carcinogenic process.

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