Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Hydrolysis of Esters of Monoribonucleotides


CONSIDERABLE attention has been paid in recent years to the hydrolysis of ribonucleic acids to mononucleotides. It was shown1,2 that alkyl esters of the 2′- and 3′-monoribonucleotides (partial formula I ; R = alkyl) provided simple model substances which could be used for a more precise study of the mechanism of hydrolysis. The overall process, effected by acid or by alkali, results in a conversion of (I) to a mixture of (III) and (IV). Both procedures involve the unstable cyclic ester intermediate (II), which is then hydrolysed to the isomeric mononucleotides (III) and (V). Since the conversion of (I) → (II) is formally a trans-esterification3, it seemed possible that the analogous process (I) → (V), that is, migration of the alkyl phosphate residue without loss of R, might also occur simultaneously.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Brown, and Todd, J. Chem. Soc., 52 (1952).

  2. Brown, and Todd, in “The Nucleic Acids”, edit. by Chargaff and Davidson, 1, 409 (Academic Press, New York, 1955).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Brown, and Todd, J. Chem. Soc., 2040 (1953). Lipkin, Talbert and Cohn, J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 76, 2871 (1954).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bender, J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 73, 1626 (1951).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Michelson, Szabo, and Todd, J. Chem. Soc. (in the press).

  6. Baer, and Kates, J. Biol. Chem., 175, 79 (1948); 185, 615 (1950).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Long and Maguire, Biochem. J., 54, 612 (1953).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Merrifield and Woolley, J. Biol. Chem., 197, 521 (1952). Cohn and Markham, Proc. Biochem. Soc., 62, 17p (1956).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Brown, Heppel and Hilmoe, J. Chem. Soc., 40 (1954).

  10. Brown, Fried, and Todd, J. Chem. Soc., 2206 (1955). Whitfeld, Biochem. J., 58, 390 (1954).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

BROWN, D., MAGRATH, D., NEILSON, A. et al. Hydrolysis of Esters of Monoribonucleotides. Nature 177, 1124–1125 (1956).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing