Uncoupling of a Nerve Cell Membrane Junction by Calcium-Ion Removal

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Science  07 Jan 1966:
Vol. 151, Issue 3706, pp. 88-89
DOI: 10.1126/science.151.3706.88


Calcium ion participates in maintaining electrical connections between the nerve cells of Retzius (Hirudo medicinalis). The conductance across the junction between these cells decreases with decreasing concentration of free, extracellular Ca++ At a certain level of Ca++ withdrawal from the cell system, junctional conductance reaches a critical low point at which the cells become functionally disconnected: the nerve impulses which are normally discharged in synchrony by the cells become asynchronous. These effects of Ca++ on junctional connection are irreversible, in contrast to those on nonjunctional surface membrane permeability.