- — Ultraviolet light induced free radical alkylation of poly U or of poly A with 2-propanol leads to the specific formation of 6-(2-hydroxy 2-propyl) 5,6-dihydro-UMP or 8-(2-hydroxy 2-propyl)-AMP residues, respectively. The biochemical significance of the alterations in the modified polynucleotides was studied by testing their messenger activities in a cell free system of E. coli. Both photoalkylated poly U and poly A have reduced functional activity, with no change in functional specificity. This was demonstrated by inhibition of polymerization of phenylalanine and lysine directed by photoalkylated poly U and poly A, respectively, and by lack of misincorporation of other amino acids. The modification of poly U also caused the disappearance of misincorporation of serine that was found with the native polynucleotide.