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ArticleThe role of sulfhydryl and disulfide groups of membrane proteins in electrical conduction and chemical transmission(University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, 1984-09) Zuazaga, Conchita ; Steinacker, Antoinette ; del Castillo, JoseThe chemical reactions of sulfhydryl and disulfide groups in proteins are discussed and the use of reagents specific for these groups as a tool in electrophysiology is reviewed. The drastic and specific changes seen when these group-specific reagents are used demonstrate the critical role of sulfhydryl and disulfide groups in electrical excitability, synaptic transmission and, particularly, postsynaptic receptor function. Sulfhydryl groups have been shown to be involved in the slow inactivation process of the voltage-dependent sodium channel, in the activation of voltage-dependent calcium channels and in sodium channel conductance. Sulfhydryl and disulfide groups have been shown to Intervene in the function of the acetylcholine receptor at the vertebrate neuromuscular junction and in invertebrate glutaminergic recepton. The release of neurotransmitter from the presynaptic termInals of these neuromuscular junctions Is also sensitive to sulfhydryl and disulfide group modification. Although in most instances the site of action of the reagents has not been resolved, their use has produced a clearer picture of receptor and channel structure-function relationships.