1. The density-gradient distribution patterns of acid phosphatase, Trypan Blue and denatured 125I-labelled albumin were studied by discontinuous sucrose- and isopycnic sucrose-density-gradient centrifugation on combined heavy and light mitochondrial (M+L) fractions of liver isolated from normal rats and from rats injected with Triton WR-1339. 2. The results obtained from the subfractionation of the M+L pellet of normal animals indicate that the equilibrium density of Trypan Blue and acid-insoluble radioactivity is the same as that for acid phosphatase, which suggests they are bound by a common membrane to form a distinct subcellular population of lysosomal nature. 3. In contrast, the analysis of the isopycnic gradients obtained on subfractionation of M+L pellets of liver isolated from rats treated with Triton WR-1339 show that the acid-insoluble radioactivity has an equilibrium density around 1.21, whereas the acid hydrolases, including cathepsin D, show the characteristic shift to an equilibrium density of around 1.12. Trypan Blue is distributed along the gradient with distinct peaks at densities 1.22 and 1.12. 4. Similar equilibrium-density distribution patterns were obtained with M+L pellets isolated from rats pretreated with Triton WR-1339 but not injected with Trypan Blue. 5. Treatment of the rats with Triton WR-1339 does not affect albumin digestion of isolated intact lysosomes despite the fact that most of the cathepsin D and the albumin ingested by phagocytosis are located in different vacuoles. 6. It is concluded from these experiments that in the liver of animals treated with Triton WR-1339 125I-labelled albumin is located within heterophagosomes which do not fuse with heterolysosomes containing the non-ionic detergent Triton WR-1339. The inability of these two lysosomal populations to fuse is not due to Trypan Blue.

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