1. A simple two-phase chloroform–aqueous buffer system was used to investigate the interaction of insulin with phospholipids and other amphipathic substances. 2. The distribution of 125I-labelled insulin in this system was determined after incubation at 37°C. Phosphatidic acid, dicetylphosphoric acid and, to a lesser extent, phosphatidylcholine and cetyltrimethylammonium bromide solubilized 125I-labelled insulin in the chloroform phase, indicating the formation of chloroform-soluble insulin–phospholipid or insulin–amphipath complexes. Phosphatidylethanolamine, sphingomyelin, cholesterol, stearylamine and Triton X-100 were without effect. 3. Formation of insulin–phospholipid complex was confirmed by paper chromatography. 4. The two-phase system was adapted to act as a simple functional system with which to investigate possible effects of insulin on the structural and functional properties of phospholipid micelles in chloroform, by using the distribution of [14C]glucose between the two phases as a monitor of phospholipid–insulin interactions. The ability of phospholipids to solubilize [14C]glucose in chloroform increased in the order phosphatidylcholine<sphingomyelin<phosphatidylethanolamine<phosphatidic acid. Insulin decreased the [14C]glucose solubilized by phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidic acid, but not by sphingomyelin. 5. The significance of these results and the molecular requirements for the formation of insulin–phospholipid complexes in chloroform are discussed.

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