Levels of batrachotoxin and lack of sensitivity to its action in poison-dart frogs (Phyllobates)

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Science  20 Jun 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4450, pp. 1383-1385
DOI: 10.1126/science.6246586


Batrachotoxin is present in remarkably high amounts in the skin of Phyllobates terribilis. Levels of batrachotoxin tend to be reduced when P. terribilis is maintained in captivity, but even after being confined for up to 6 years, these frogs were still at least five times more toxic than other Phyllobates species used by natives for poisoning blowgun darts. Batrachotoxin was not detectable in F1 progeny reared to maturity in captivity. Nerve and muscle preparations from wild-caught frogs and from the nontoxic F1 frogs were both insensitive to batrachotoxin. The regulatory site controlling sodium-channel activation and permeability appears to have been minimally altered to prevent interaction with batrachotoxin, but is still sensitive to other sodium conductance activators (veratridine, grayanotoxin) to which the frogs arenot exposed naturally.

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