Protein phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid enhances transmitter release at neuromuscular junctions

Muhammad Abdul-Ghani, Edward A. Kravitz, Halina Meiri, Rami Rahamimoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


To test the hypothesis that continual phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of protein components of nerve terminals might be important determinants of synaptic efficacy, the effect of okadaic acid, a potent natural inhibitor of two serine threonine protein phosphatases (phosphatase 1 and phosphatase 2A), was examined on synaptic transmission at frog (cholinergic) and lobster (glutamatergic and GABAergic) neuromuscular junctions. At frog junctions, the addition of 1 μM okadaic acid to the extracellular fluid caused almost a doubling of the amplitude of the end-plate potential. The effect of okadaic acid was reversible. Quantal analysis showed that the augmenting effect was presynaptic, resulting from an increase in the number of quanta of transmitter released by a nerve impulse. There was no significant change in the amplitude of spontaneously liberated miniature end-plate potentials, but their frequency of release increased in parallel with the increase in amplitude of the nerve-evoked synaptic potential. Similar studies with lobster neuromuscular junctions showed increases in the size of both excitatory and inhibitory synaptic responses that were similar in magnitude to the effects seen in the frog junctions. No significant changes in membrane potential or in input resistance accompanied the increased response size. These results suggest that transmitter release at a variety of junctions using different transmitters is constantly modulated by phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of important protein components within nerve terminals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1803-1807
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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