Identification of the Gene for Amatoxin and Phallatoxin


Executive Summary


Amatoxins and phallotoxins, natural products found in poisonous mushrooms, are deadly in high concentrations. However, there is increased research activity to explore possible clinical applications of these toxins and other cyclic peptides. Because cyclic peptides have not been successfully produced in large amounts in the laboratory or in cultivation, the only source is the scarce wild mushrooms themselves.  Our technology is a stable, scalable, and cost-effective production platform of these bioactive compounds to feed growing demands in pharmaceutical research applications.  The platform additionally allows for engineering and production of a wide range of cyclic peptides. 


Description of Technology


By isolating the mycotoxin biosynthetic genes and introducing these genes into other organisms for biosynthetic production, this novel technology creates a platform for a scalable supply of desired cyclic peptides, including alpha-amanitin and phallatoxin.  This cyclic peptide production platform provides a stable, less costly source of these biologically active compounds for pharmaceutical research.  Additionally, the isolated genes can be used to make PCR primers for mycotoxin poisoning diagnostics. 


Key Benefits

  • Enable cost-effective, scalable biosynthetic production of rare, complex natural products
  • Provide reliable supply for clinical research
  • Provide effective tool for the diagnosis of mycotoxin poisoning



  • Research tool: production of alpha-amanitin, an RNA polymerase 2 inhibitors and cytological actin marker
  • Therapeutics
  • Cyclic peptide production


Patent Status:


US Patents 9,273,100 and 9,598,686 and two patents pending (15/437,359 and 62/491,632)


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available.


Inventors: Dr. Jonathan Walton, Dr. Heather Hallen, Dr. John Scott-Craig


Tech ID




Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University