1. To assess the possible involvement of ligandin and aminoazo-dye-binding protein A in intracellular transport it is necessary to know how their ligands, most of which are molecules with hydrophobic moieties, interact with cellular membranes. To obtain such information we have examined the interactions of 2-acetylaminofluorene, 4-dimethylaminoazobenzene, oestrone and testosterone with aqueous dispersions of egg phosphatidylcholine and egg phosphatidylcholine/cholesterol (1:1, molar ratio) by equilibrium dialysis and spectrophotometry. 2. At 25°C and pH7.4, the partition coefficients for binding to phosphatidylcholine [expressed as (mol of ligand bound/mol of phosphatidylcholine)/unbound ligand concentration] were: for 2-acetylaminofluorene, 5.0×103 litre·mol−1; for 4-dimethylaminoazobenzene, 2.1×104 litre·mol−1; for oestrone, 3.1×103 litre·mol−1; and for testosterone, 4.2×102 litre·mol−1. In the ranges studied these values were independent of concentration. The results for the two steroids confirm those of Heap, Symons & Watkins [(1970) Biochim. Biophys. Acta218, 482–495]. 3. The introduction of cholesterol into the lipid bilayers caused large decreases in the partition coefficients of oestrone and testosterone, but had relatively little effect on the binding of 2-acetylaminofluorene and 4-dimethylaminoazobenzene. 4. By assuming that the interactions with egg phosphatidylcholine bilayers resemble those with the phospholipid components of mammalian intracellular membranes the phosphatidylcholine partition coefficients, together with data for binding to the intracellular proteins ligandin and aminoazo-dye-binding protein A, enable the subcellular distributions of the four compounds to be estimated. For the rat hepatocyte up to 98, 99, 89 and 58% of the total 2-acetylaminofluorene, 4-dimethylaminoazobenzene, oestrone and testosterone respectively may be membrane-bound.

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