The aqueous extract of the venom glands of black widow spiders was fractionated on a column of Sephadex G-200 and then on a column of DEAE-Sephadex A-50 pH 8.2. A protein fraction was obtained that caused a great increase in the frequency of occurrence of miniature end plate potentials at the frog neuromuscular junction, and caused swelling of the nerve terminals and depleted them of their vesicles. The fraction consists of a least four protein components that are similar in their molecular weights (about 130,000) and isoelectric points (ranging from pH 5.2 to 5.5) and are immunologically indistinguishable. It contains no sugar residues and has little or no lipolytic or proteolytic activity. The fraction is toxic to mice and is different from the fractions that act on houseflies, the crayfish stretch receptor and the cockroach heart. It seems pure enough to warrant a detailed study of its site and mode of action.

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