Amanita phalloides

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The death cap, Amanita phalloides, is a highly toxic fungus, ingestion of which can cause severe liver and kidney damage eventually resulting in death if left untreated. [2] This is due to the high content of the α- and β-amanitin peptides. [3]
Amanita phalloides
Amanita phalloides


[edit] Physical Description

Amanita phalloides is a basidomycete which produces moderately sized, stereotypical mushroom shaped fruiting body that ranges from white to green brown in colour. It is often mistaken for edible mushrooms of the Agaricus family, and sometimes young fruiting bodies are wrongly identified as puffballs, leading to accidental poisoning.

[edit] Mode of Biological Action

Both α- and β-amanitin function as RNA polymerase II inhibitors, binding to the active site pocket and preventing the translation of DNA into RNA.[4] Thus protein synthesis is stalled, eventually resulting in cell death. The reason the liver is affected more than other tissues is that as the toxin is absorbed in the digestive tract, it first travels to the liver.
α-amamitin bound to active pocket of RNA polymerase II.  Please see full resolution for image.[1]
α-amamitin bound to active pocket of RNA polymerase II. Please see full resolution for image.[1]

[edit] History

It is suspected that many important figures have been assassinated using death cap mushrooms. Emperor Claudius was suspected to have been fed a meal either laced or wholly consisting of death caps as they look similar to Caesar's Mushrooms.[5] Pope Clement VII suffered symptoms matching death cap poisoning after eating a mushroom dish shortly before his death.[6]

[edit] References

1. Bushnell, D., Cramer, P., & Kornberg, R. (2002). Structural basis of transcription: alpha-amanitin-rna polymerase ii cocrystal at 2.8 a resolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99(1218).

2. Lepp, H. (2013, January 22). Deathcap mushroom amanita phalloides. Retrieved from

3. Riede, I. (2010). Tumor therapy with amanita phalloides (death cap): stabilization of b-cell chronic lymphatic leukemia. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(10), 1129-1132.

4. Meinecke, B., & Meinecke-Tillmann, S. (1993). Effects of α-amanitin on nuclear maturation of porcine oocytes in vitro. Reproduction: The Journal of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, 98, 195-201.

5. Marmion, V., & Wiedemann, T. (2002). The death of claudius. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 95(5), 260-261.

6. Powell, A. (2010, April 07). Killer mushrooms! researcher guides work into deadly mushroom often confused with edible ones.,

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