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Toxic Chemicals as Probes of Nerve Membrane Function

  • Toshio Narahashi
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 84)

Abstract

Certain toxins and chemicals have been used as probes to characterize nerve membrane ionic channels. These neuroactive agents exert highly specific actions on sodium or potassium channel. Tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin block the sodium channel at very low concentrations thereby impairing nervous conduction. They are being used to separate the membrane current into a sodium and potassium component, to eliminate the sodium current, to study the mechanism of synaptic and neuromuscular transmission, and to characterize, isolate and identify the sodium channel. A new toxin isolated from Gonyaulax tamarensis exerts a very similar sodium channel blocking action. Tetraethylammoni urn is known to block the potassium channel. Aminopyridines inhibit the potassium current in a manner dependent upon the membrane potential, time and stimulus frequency, and are effective by external application. These potassium blocking agents are useful tools to eliminate the potassium current, to study synaptic transmission, and to characterize the potassium channel. Grayanotoxins selectively increase the resting sodium permeability thereby causing a large depolarization without much effect on the sodium permeability increase responsible for the action potential generation. The resting sodium channel exhibits a very low permselectivity to various organic and inorganic cations, whereas it shows a high selectivity during activity. Grayanotoxins do not affect the selectivity ratio either at rest or during activity. Batrachotoxin and veratridine also increase the resting sodium permeability. These depolarizing agents are useful probes to characterize the resting sodium channel.

Keywords

Sodium Channel Potassium Current Sodium Current Giant Axon Squid Giant Axon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toshio Narahashi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and PharmacologyDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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