Fungi that steal the body and give rise to sexually maddened cicadas contain hallucinogenic drug compounds

Scientists have characterized the four enzymes that fungi use to make psilocybin

Research in recent decades has suggested that compound psilocybin can have a number of therapeutic benefits, with potential to help treat anxiety, depression and even addiction.

But until now, the & # 39; recipe & # 39; for psilocybin remains a mystery.

In a new study, scientists have characterized the four enzymes that fungi use to make this compound for the first time, setting the stage for the pharmaceutical production of the "powerful psychedelic fungal drug."

Scientists have characterized the four enzymes that fungi use to make psilocybin

Scientists have characterized the four enzymes that fungi use to make psilocybin

After identifying and characterizing the enzymes behind psilocybin, the team from Friedrich Schiller University in Jena was able to develop the first enzymatic synthesis of the compound, reports C & EN, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

To arrive at the correct "recipe", the team in the new study sequenced the genomes of two fungi species.

Then, they used bacteria and fungi designed to confirm the activity of the genes and the order of the synthetic steps, according to C & EN.

Their efforts revealed a new enzyme, called PsiD strips of carbon dioxide tryptophan, while another adds a hydroxyl group – or, oxygen and hydrogen.

Another enzyme, known as PsiK, acts as a catalyst for phosphotransfer.

Then, an enzyme known as PsiM catalyzes the transfer of methyl groups.

Based on their discovery, the researchers developed a "single-vessel reaction" to create psilocybin from 4-hydroxy-L-tryptophan, using three of the enzymes: PsiD, PsiK and PsiM.

According to the team, the results could now "lay the foundations" for the production of drugs based on psychedelic fungi.

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