Biochemical and Electrophysiological Demonstrations of the Actions of β‐Bungarotoxin on Synapses in Brain

J. V. Halliwell, C. K. Tse, J. W. Spokes, I. Othman, J. O. Dolly

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Abstract: Homogeneous β‐bungarotoxin interacts irreversibly with rat olfactory cortex and produces permanent inhibition of neurotransmission (half‐time of blockade for 230 nM toxin is 25 min). Binding occurs in the absence of divalent cations, but the rate of synaptic blockade is increased by Ca2+, which activates the intrinsic phospholipase A2 activity of the toxin. Other observable actions of the toxin, seen with rat cerebrocortical synaptosomes, are an increase in the release of acetylcholine, glutamate and γ‐aminobutyrate and impairment of transmitter uptake, which are all insensitive to tetrodotoxin. Inactivation of the toxin's phospholipase activity by chemical modification with p‐bromophenacyl bromide diminishes the observed concomitant efflux of the neurotransmitters and lactate dehydrogenase. Collectively, the results support the idea that the toxin binds specifically and irreversibly to component(s) on nerve terminals and this together with the resultant phospholipolysis leads eventually to synaptic blockade. Such a proposal would account for the unique toxicity of the protein relative to phospholipase A2 enzymes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-550
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • Olfactory cortex
  • Phospholipase A
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Transmitter release
  • β‐Bungarotoxin

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