Tetrodotoxin produced by Pufferfish By Charles Brown Binds to site 1 of the fast voltage gated sodium channel It blocks the Na + current in human hearts and prevents contraction Biochemistry Tetrodotoxin Potent neurotoxin Named after fish Teratodoniformes = “four toothed”
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By Charles Brown
Puffers use a combination of pectoral, dorsal, anal, and caudal fins for propulsion that make them highly maneuverable but very slow, and therefore comparatively easy targets for predators.
As a defense mechanism, puffers have the ability to inflate rapidly, filling their extremely elastic stomachs with water.
Thus, a hungry predator stalking the puffers may suddenly find itself facing what seems to be a much larger fish and pause, giving the puffers an opportunity to retreat to safety.
The entire Tetraodontidae family has a worldwide distribution. Its members are found near-shore in shallow seas from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Many members of the family can be found in areas of brackish water such as estuaries. Some select species are known to exist entirely in freshwater.
In the US: Reports of tetrodotoxin poisoning are rare in the US, but a 1996 report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) documents 3 cases of tetrodotoxin toxicity from persons ingesting contaminated fugu imported by a coworker from Japan.
Internationally: Despite the careful training and certification of fugu chefs in Japan, cases of mortality and morbidity from puffer fish ingestion continue to be reported. Estimates vary, but up to 50 deaths may occur each year from tetrodotoxin poisoning in Japan.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors.. 448 Family Tetraodontidae - Puffers. FishBase. Retrieved on 2007-02-10
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