Constitution and properties of axonal membranes of crustacean nerves

Biochemistry. 1975 Dec 16;14(25):5500-11. doi: 10.1021/bi00696a019.


The purification of axonal membranes of crustaceans was followed by measuring enrichment in [3H]tetrodotoxin binding capacity and in Na+, K+-ATPase activity. A characteristic of these membranes is their high content of lipids and their low content of protein as compared to other types of plasmatic membranes. The axonal membrane contains myosin-like, actin-like, tropomyosin-like, and tubulin-like proteins. It also contains Na+, K+-ATPase and acetylcholinesterase. The molecular weights of these two enzymes after solubilization are 280,000 and 270,000, respectively. The molecular weights of the catalytic subunits are 96,000 for ATPase and 71,000 for acetylcholinesterase. We confirmed the presence of a nicotine binding component in the axonal membrane of the lobster but we have been unable to find [3H]nicotine binding to crab axonal membranes. The binding to axonal membranes og of the sodium channel, has been studied in detail. The dissociation constant for the binding of [3H]tetrodotoxin to the axonal membrane receptor is 2.9 nM at pH 7.4. The concentration of the tetrodotoxin receptor in crustacean membranes is about 10 pmol/mg of membrane protein, 7 times less than the acetylcholinesterase, 30 times less than the Na+, K+-ATPase, and 30 times less than the nicotine binding component in the lobster membrane. A reasonable estimate indicates that approximately only one peptide chain in 1000 constitutes the tetrodotoxin binding part of the sodium channel in the axonal membrane. Veratridine, which acts selectively on the resting sodium permeability, binds to the phospholipid part of the axonal membrane. [3H]Veratridine binding to membranes parallels the electrophysiological effect. Veratridine and tetrodotoxin have different receptor sites. Although tetrodotoxin can repolarize the excitable membrane of a giant axon depolarized by veratridine, veratridine does not affect the binding of [3H]tetrodotoxin to purified axonal membranes. Similarly, tetrodotoxin does not affect the binding of [3H]veratridine to axonal membranes. Scorpion neurotoxin I, a presynaptic toxin which affects both the Na+ and the K+ channels, does not interfere with the binding of [3H]tetrodotoxin or [3H]veratridine to axonal membranes. Tetrodotoxin, veratridine, and scorpion neurotoxin I, which have in common the perturbation of the normal functioning of the sodium channel, act upon three different types of receptor sites.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Axons / analysis
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Crustacea / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Kinetics
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Membranes / analysis
  • Membranes / metabolism*
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nicotine / metabolism
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Scorpions
  • Tetrodotoxin / metabolism
  • Toxins, Biological / metabolism
  • Veratridine / metabolism


  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Proteins
  • Toxins, Biological
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Nicotine
  • Veratridine
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases