The crude extract of venom glands of the polychaete annelid Glycera convoluta triggers a large Ca2+-dependent acetylcholine release from both frog motor nerve terminals and Torpedo electric organ synaptosomes. This extract was partially purified by Concanavalin A affinity chromatography. The biological activity was correlated in both preparations to a 300,000-dalton band, as shown by gel electrophoresis. This confirmed previous determinations obtained with chromatographic methods. This glycoprotein binds to presynaptic but not postsynaptic plasma membranes isolated from Torpedo electric organ. Pretreatment of intact synaptosomes by pronase abolished both the binding and the venom-induced acetylcholine release without impairing the high K+-induced acetylcholine release. Pretreatment of nerve terminal membranes by Concanavalin A similarly prevented the binding and the biological response. Binding to Torpedo membranes was still observed in the presence of EGTA. An antiserum directed to venom glycoproteins inhibited the neurotoxin so we could directly follow its binding to the presynaptic membrane. Glycera convoluta neurotoxin has to bind to a ectocellularly oriented protein of the presynaptic terminal to induce transmitter release.

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