Cone Snail Toxins and Paralysis
This animation shows how cone snail toxins cause paralysis by blocking signal transmission at the synapse between neuron and muscle.
Predatory cone snails use venom to paralyze their prey, such as fish. This animation illustrates how multiple toxins in the venom work together to induce paralysis. Many of the toxins block channel proteins at motor neuron synapses, including calcium channels, sodium channels, and acetylcholine-activated receptor channels. The combined actions of the toxins prevent electrical signals from the nerves from being transmitted to the muscles.
This animation is a clip from a 2009 Holiday Lecture Series, Exploring Biodiversity: The Search for New Medicines. Depending on students’ background, it may be helpful to pause the animation at various points to discuss different structures or components.