A study was made of the effects of various types of detergents on the swelling of isolated mitochondria and on mitochondrial ATPases which are activated by Mg or DNP respectively. The rate of swelling was measured in the Beckman spectrophotometer by following the decrease in turbidity of dilute suspensions of these organelles. It was found that non-ionic detergents containing a nonyl phenoxy side chain or anionic detergents caused swelling of the mitochondria and activation of Mg-ATPase. On the other hand, cationic detergents promoted the clumping of mitochondria and did not activate Mg-ATPase. DNP-ATPase was inhibited by all of the detergents tested. It would appear from these observations that the inhibition of DNP-ATPase is not related to a gross change in the morphology of the organelles; in contrast, the activation of Mg-ATPase definitely is correlated with swelling of the isolated mitochondria. These data also suggest that the ionic detergents combine with charged sites on the protein moiety of the lipoprotein in the mitochondrial surface, whereas the non-ionic detergents form inclusion compounds with the lipide moiety, thereby altering the mitochondrial structure and permeability.

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