1. The effect of the extracellular calcium and magnesium concentrations and calcium ionophore, X-537A, on the frequency of miniature excitatory post-synaptic potentials (MEPSPs) was studied in cockroach leg muscle fibres. 2. The frequency of MEPSPs increased as the calcium concentration was increased from 0.1 to 10 mM. In the presence of 10 mM magnesium, however, raising the calcium concentration from 0.1 to 1 mM slightly depressed the frequency. In saline containing elevated potassium (20.8 mM), increasing the calcium concentration produced a much higher frequency than that in the normal potassium saline (10.8 mM) in the absence of magnesium. Raising the extracellular potassium concentration was without effect unless the bathing solution contained calcium. 3. The frequency of the miniature potentials was reduced as the magnesium concentration was raised from 0 to 10 mM, depending on the presence of calcium ions. On the contrary, a slightly increased frequency was observed in the low calcium saline as the magnesium concentration was raised from 1 to 10 mM. The reciprocal relationship between calcium and magnesium and the time course of the effect suggest that both ions act at the same surface sites in the presynaptic membrane. 4. X-537A elicited a transient increase in frequency followed by a fall of the frequency to a very low rate. Further application of the ionophore was without effect. The effect of X-537A on the spontaneous release of transmitter at the insect neuromuscular junction was comparable with that on the spontaneous acetylcholine release in vertebrate neuromuscular junctions.
- © 1978 by Company of Biologists