Identification of the Gene for Amatoxin and Phallatoxin
Mushroom poisonings are not very common but they are difficult to diagnose. Amanita mushrooms produce multiple classes of toxins, the two most important being amatoxins and phallotoxins. Upon ingestion, amatoxin binds to the RNA polymerase II enzyme, effectively causing cytolysis of hepatocytes (liver cells). Phallotoxins destroy liver cells by disturbing the equilibrium of G-actin with F-actin, causing it to shift entirely to F-actin. Symptoms may take as long as 24 hours after ingestion to appear. By then, it is far past the time in which stomach pumping would yield an efficient result.
Description of Technology
This invention is for compositions and methods of the genes and peptides that presumptively specify the cyclic peptide toxins of the Amanita mushroom species. The invention comprises the DNA sequences of a gene that contains coding sequences for both amatoxin and phallotoxin peptides, and that appears to be part of larger preprotein that may contain other toxin sequences. The invention may thus provide new biochemical research agents through the discovery of new toxins. The invention also provides for means of detecting Amanitapeptide producing mushrooms and for diagnosing suspected cases of mushroom poisoning.
The invention may be useful for diagnosing Amanita mushroom poisoning. In addition, toxins from Amanita mushrooms are used as biochemical research reagents, alpha-amanitin for binding to RNA polymerase and inhibiting transcription of DNA into RNA, and phallicidin by binding to the cellular cytoskeleton protein actin.
Jonathan Walton, Heather Hallen-Adams, John Scott-Craig, Hong Luo
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Michigan State University