Tetrodotoxin, frequently abbreviated as TTX, is a potent neurotoxin. Its name derives from Tetraodontiformes, an order that includes pufferfish, porcupinefish, ocean sunfish, and triggerfish; several species that carry the toxin. Although tetrodotoxin was discovered in these fish and found in several other animals (e.g., blue-ringed octopus, rough-skinned newt, and Naticidae) it is actually produced by certain symbiotic bacteria, such as Pseudoalteromonas tetraodonis, certain species of Pseudomonas and Vibrio, as well as some others that reside within these animals.
Tetrodotoxin inhibits the firing of action potentials in nerves by binding to the voltage-gated sodium channels in nerve cell membranes and blocking the passage of sodium ions (responsible for the rising phase of an action potential) into the nerve cell.
TTX is extremely toxic. The Material Safety Data Sheet for TTX lists the oral median lethal dose (LD50) for mice as 334 μg per kg. For comparison, the oral LD50 of potassium cyanide for mice is 8.5 mg per kg, demonstrating that even orally, TTX is more poisonous than cyanide. TTX is even more dangerous if injected; the amount needed to reach a lethal dose by injection only 8 μg per kg in mice.