The effect of black widow spider venom (BWSV) on the junctions of the lobster nerve-muscle preparation was studied by intracellular recordings. After application of BWSV both excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (epsp and ipsp) were augmented then suppressed. The frequency of miniature potentials was markedly increased by BWSV. Summated postsynaptic conductance changes appeared to be responsible for the membrane depolarization and the decrease in effective membrane resistance seen in the early stages of the venom action. In the later stages both excitatory and inhibitory "giant miniature potentials" were evoked. No discernible changes were found in the reversal potential of the epsp and ipsp and in the sensitivity of the postsynaptic membrane. The results indicate that BWSV has a presynaptic action at crustacean neuromuscular junctions.

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