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Cancer patients and tumor-bearing animals excrete high levels of modified purines and pyrimidines some of which, e.g., N2,N2-dimethylguanosine, can originate only from transfer RNA (tRNA). Until recently, it could not be ascertained whether the high level of excretion of such compounds is due to cell death or specific tRNA turnover. However, an approach to this problem became feasible, with beta-aminoisobutyric acid as a probe. This compound is a terminal degradation product of thymine which ispmid:884680 fatcat:xtbcq4qsmzdunlssbq3dfkw6vq