Recent reports suggest that glutamate may be the excitatory neuromuscular transmitter in insects. In this study, glutamate uptake by isolated cockroach nerve muscle preparations was investigated by means of chemical and electron microscope radioautographic techniques. We found that the preparation had a high affinity for glutamate and that nerve stimulation enhanced glutamate uptake. Chemical studies showed that the average tissue concentration of glutamate bound during a 1 hr incubation period in 10-5 M glutamate-3H after nerve stimulation was 2.8 x 10-5 M. Less than 1% of the radioactivity was present in the perchloric acid-precipitated protein fraction. Using electron microscope radioautography, we observed that sheath cells showed the highest glutamate concentration of all cellular compartments. Uptake was greater at neuromuscular junctions than in other regions of the tissue. The data suggest a possible mechanism for transmitter inactivation and protection of synapses from high blood glutamate.

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