MK-801, an N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist in mammalian brain tissue, is a potent nematocidal agent. Specific MK-801 binding sites have been identified and characterized in a membrane fraction prepared from the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The high-affinity MK-801 binding site has an apparent dissociation constant, Kd, of 225 nM. Unlike the MK-801 binding site in mammalian tissues, the C. elegans binding site is not effected by glutamate or glycine, and polyamines are potent inhibitors of specific MK-801 binding.

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