1. The effect of picrotoxin on the neuromuscular junction of the crayfish (Cambarus clarkii) was investigated. The potential changes were recorded intracellularly and extracellularly with micro-electrodes. The membrane conductance of the muscle fibre was also measured.
2. Picrotoxin depressed the amplitudes of the inhibitory junctional potentials and the potential changes produced by iontophoretically applied γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), but had no appreciable effect on the excitatory junctional potentials and the potential changes produced by L-glutamate.
3. The presynaptic action of GABA and the neural transmitter was depressed by picrotoxin. The presynaptic action of β-guanidinopropionic acid was also depressed by picrotoxin.
4. The increase in the membrane conductance produced by the addition of GABA in the bath fluid was depressed by picrotoxin. The dose—response relation showed that picrotoxin depressed the conductance increase produced by GABA in a non-competitive manner. The action of picrotoxin on the conductance increase produced by GABA was more effective in low Cl- solution.
5. The analysis of the dose—response curves showed that the action of picrotoxin was well expressed by the Michaelis—Menten equation, but the slope of the dose—response curve of GABA was steeper than this relation. It is proposed that the conductance of the junctional membrane was increased by the combination of two molecules of GABA with a receptor, and the attachment of one molecule of picrotoxin to a specific site depressed the conductance increase.