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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

alpha Latrotoxin of the black widow spider venom opens a small, non-closing cation channel.

alpha Latrotoxin, a presynaptically acting polypeptide neurotoxin, induces massive neurotransmitter release from both synapses of vertebrates and the neurosecretory cells of the line PC12, derived from a rat pheochromocytoma. Single PC12 cells, differentiated by treatment with nerve growth factor, were used to investigate by the patch-clamp technique i) the alterations of the resting cell conditions (membrane potential and resistance) and ii) the microscopic mechanism of the permeability changes that underly the response to alpha LTx. The toxin was found to open a channel, 15 pS in conductance, that is permeable to various cations (Na+, K+ and probably Ca2+) and has little tendency to close. This channel is different from the classical voltage- and receptor-operated channels present in PC12 cells, as well as from the large conductances induced by the toxin in artificial lipid membranes.[1]


  1. alpha Latrotoxin of the black widow spider venom opens a small, non-closing cation channel. Wanke, E., Ferroni, A., Gattanini, P., Meldolesi, J. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. (1986) [Pubmed]
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