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Radioactive 5'-amino-5'-deoxythymidine (5'-AdThd), an inhibitor of herpes simplex virus, was synthesized by direct amination of monotosylated thymidine with concentrated ammonium hydroxide. Incubation of 5'-AdThd with purified herpes simplex virus type 1-encoded pyrimidine deoxyribonucleoside kinase produced the diphosphate derivative. The monphosphate derivative of 5'-AdThd was not detected as a reaction product of this enzymatic phosphorylation. A purified mixture of nonviral thymidine kinase and thymidylate kinase derived from uninfected Vero cells was unable to phosphorylate 5'-AdThd under identical conditions. The rate of hydrolysis of 5'-AdThd diphosphate increased as the pH of the reaction mixture decreased, with a shoulder region appearing between pH 3 and 5. The rate of hydrolysis was markedly increased below pH 3. 5'-AdThd, but not the monophosphate derivative, was detected in the hydrolysis mixture. The hydrolysis of 5'-AdThd diphosphate pH 3 also yielded some thymine in addition to 5'-AdThd.