Skip to Content

Unlucky Chucky and Toxins of the Neuromuscular Junction


Author(s)

Andrew M. Petzold
Center for Learning Innovation
University of Minnesota Rochester
petzo002@umn.edu
Jennifer Wollschlager
Center for Learning Innovation
University of Minnesota Rochester
jwollsch@umn.edu
Robert L. Dunbar
Center for Learning Innovation
University of Minnesota Rochester
dunb0011@r.umn.edu

Abstract

Signaling at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is a complex process that is required for many actions that sustain life within humans. Toxins that act upon the NMJ, both natural and synthetic, act in a variety of ways to inhibit this function. This case study examines how a variety of toxins can act to disrupt the normal mechanism of function of the NMJ  by placing a protagonist (“Unlucky Chucky”) at an eco-spa in Colombia with his good friend Melody. Unfortunately, during their time at the eco-spa, things don’t always turn out well for Chucky. A variety of neuromuscular toxins are discussed including curare (d-tubocurarine), Botox (botulinum toxin A), physostigmine and sarin gas (GB). This case was designed to be used in a variety of classrooms ranging from an undergraduate introduction to biology course in a module focused on neuromuscular functioning, to an introduction to physiology course as an introduction to the NMJ; it could also potentially be used in a nursing course that is examining NMJ physiology.


Objectives

  • Understand the structure and function of the neuromuscular junction.
  • Understand the mechanisms by which curare, botulinum toxin, and nerve agents work to affect the physiology of the NMJ.
  • Apply principles learned from this case to other ions and drugs that might operate at the NMJ.

Keywords

neuromuscular junction; NMJ; toxin; antagonist; acetylcholine; curare; botulinum toxin; sarin

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Physiology  |  


Date Posted

7/5/2016

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Comments