Crayfish neuromuscular facilitation activated by constant presynaptic action potentials and depolarizing pulses

J Physiol. 1974 Aug;241(1):69-89. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1974.sp010641.


1. Experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that facilitation of transmitter release in response to repetitive stimulation of the exciter motor axon to the crayfish claw opener muscle is due to an increase in the amplitude or duration of the action potential in presynaptic terminals. No consistent changes were found in the nerve terminal potential (n.t.p.) recorded extracellularly at synaptic sites on the surface of muscle fibres.2. Apparent changes in n.t.p. are attributed to three causes.(i) Some recordings are shown to be contaminated by non-specific muscle responses which grow during facilitation.(ii) Some averaged n.t.p.s exhibit opposite changes in amplitude and duration which suggest a change in the synchrony of presynaptic nerve impulses at different frequencies.(iii) Some changes in n.t.p. are blocked by gamma-methyl glutamate, an antagonist of the post-synaptic receptor, which suggests that these changes are caused by small muscle movements.3. The only change in n.t.p. believed to represent an actual change in the intracellular signal is a reduction in n.t.p. amplitude to the second of two stimuli separated by a brief interval.4. Tetra-ethyl ammonium ions increase synaptic transmission about 20% and prolong the n.t.p. about 15%. This result suggests that an increase in n.t.p. large enough to increase transmission by the several hundred per cent occurring during facilitation would be detected.5. The nerve terminals are electrically excitable, and most synaptic sites have a diphasic or triphasic n.t.p., which suggests that the motor neurone terminals are actively invaded by nerve impulses.6. When nerve impulses are blocked in tetrodotoxin, depolarization of nerve terminals increases the frequency of miniature excitatory junctional potentials (e.j.p.s), and a phasic e.j.p. can be evoked by large, brief depolarizing pulses. Responses to repetitive or paired depolarizations of constant amplitude and duration exhibit a facilitation similar to that of e.j.p.s evoked by nerve impulses.7. It is concluded that facilitation in the crayfish claw opener is not due to a change in the presynaptic action potential, but is due to some change at a later step in the depolarization-secretion process.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials* / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Astacoidea
  • Electrophysiology
  • Glutamates / pharmacology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Nerve Endings / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission* / drug effects
  • Tetraethylammonium Compounds / pharmacology
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Glutamates
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Tetraethylammonium Compounds
  • Tetrodotoxin