The efflux of 22Na from vesicles formed by axolemma fragments isolated from lobster nerves was studied in the presence and in the absence of drugs having well-known action on the sodium channels. The vesicles were equilibrated 12-14 h at 4 degrees C with 22Na in lobster solution containing 1 mM ouabain. Afterwards the suspension was divided: one portion was used as control and the others were treated with veratrine (0.025-0.50 mg/ml), tetrodotoxin (1-2,000 nM) in the presence of veratrine, or tetrodotoxin alone. After 3 h at 20-22 degrees C, the suspensions were diluted into nonradioactive solutions and the 22Na efflux followed by a rapid filtration technique. The results revealed that veratrine increases the efflux rate and the additional application of tetrodotoxin abolishes it, e.g., 0.50 mg of veratrine/ml increases the rate, expressed in 10(-2) min(-1), from 0.59 +/- 0.04 (mean +/- SEM; n = 13) to 0.86 +/- 0.05 (n = 13), and the addition of 100 nM tetrodotoxin diminishes it to 0.48 +/- 0.07 (n = 4). This increase and diminution are statistically significant (P less than 0.005), but this is not the case between the control and the veratrine plus tetrodotoxin values (P greater than 0.05). 50% of the diminution is produced by 11.9 +/- 2.4 nM tetrodotoxin. Tetrodotoxin alone produces a slight diminution of the 22Na efflux. Batrachotoxin (0.50 muM) has an action similar to veratrine's. These findings are considered evidence of the presence of functioning sodium channels in the isolated axolemma fragments.

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