The reactions of three organic mercurial compounds, chlormerodrin, parachloromercuribenzoate (PCMB), and parachloromercuribenzenesulfonate (PCMBS) with intact red blood cells, hemolyzed red cells, hemoglobin solutions, and hemoglobin-free ghosts have been characterized. Both PCMB and PCMBS react with only 2 to 3 sulfhydryl groups per mole of hemoglobin in solution, whereas chlormerodrin reacts with 6 to 7. In hemoglobin-free ghosts, however, all three reagents react with a similar number of sulfhydryl groups, approximately 4 x 10-17 moles per cell, or about 25 per cent of the total stromal sulfhydryl groups, which react with inorganic mercuric chloride. In the intact cell the membrane imposes a diffusion barrier; chlormerodrin and PCMB penetrate slowly, whereas PCMBS does not. Kinetic studies of chlormerodrin binding to intact cells reveal that the majority of stromal sulfhydryl groups is located inside the diffusion barrier, with only 1 to 1.5 per cent (or 1 to 1,400,000 sites per cell) located outside of this barrier. Reaction of PCMBS with intact cells is limited to this small fraction on the outer membrane surface. All three reagents are capable of inhibiting glucose transport in the red cell. With chlormerodrin and PCMBS it was demonstrated that the inhibition results from interactions with the sulfhydryl groups located on the outer surface of the membrane.

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