Worm Breeder's Gazette 1(1): 20b
These abstracts should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.
Using Ascaris as a model system, we are studying ionic mechanisms of the spontaneous electrical activity in nematode somatic muscle. The fast spike potentials appear to be Ca+2 mediated; their amplitude depends on the external Ca+2 concentration, they are TTX insensitive, they persist when Na+ is replaced by Tris+, choline+, or Cs+, and they are blocked by Co+2 and La+3. When the normal solution is replaced by one containing 11 mM Ba+2 and 0.15 mM Ca+2 as the only divalent cations, the slow waves underlying the normal spike activity appear to increase dramatically in amplitude and duration; spike activity gradually disappears. The duration and amplitude of the slow waves at steady state under these conditions increase with Ba+2 concentration, reaching values of 1-2 minutes and 50-60 mV, respectively, in 26 mM Ba+2. These results and others lead us to conclude that the slow waves are also Ca+2 mediated. The muscles are depolarized by 0.1 mM ouabain, suggesting some involvement of an electrogenic pump in maintaining the membrane potential. TEA, in concentrations as low as 1 mM, has pronounced effects on the spontaneous myogenic activity, consistent with the effects observed when TEA is injected iontophoretically into C. elegans.