1. The inactivation of an RNA-containing bacteriophage after reaction with four methylating agents was studied. Measurements of the extent of methylation of the RNA and of the nature and amounts of the various reaction products were made. In experiments with dimethyl sulphate and methyl methanesulphonate inactivation can be quantitatively accounted for by methylation at two of the positions involved in hydrogen bonding: N-1 of adenine and N-3 of cytosine. In experiments with N-methyl-N-nitrosourea and N-methyl-N′-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine methylation at N-1 of adenine and N-3 of cytosine accounts for only about one-half of the observed inactivation. Scission of the RNA chain during reaction accounts for a further 20% of the inactivation. To account for the remainder it seems necessary to postulate that formation of O6-methylguanine constitutes a lethal lesion. 2. Breaks in the RNA chain formed on reaction with the nitroso derivatives presumably result from methylation of the phosphate diester group followed by hydrolysis of the unstable triester thus formed.
- © 1974 London: The Biochemical Society