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Post: How did magic mushrooms evolve to contain psilocybin?

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How did magic mushrooms evolve to contain psilocybin?
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Article image Psilocybin, the primary psychoactive component in “magic mushrooms” of the genus Psilocybe , has recently gained attention not only as a popular recreational drug but also in the realm of medicine for its potential therapeutic benefits. How is psilocybin produced by magic mushrooms?

Notably, the psilocybin found in magic mushrooms has shown promise in treating depression , addiction, and anxiety, reaching advanced stages of clinical trials as a potential pharmaceutical treatment. Now, a study led by the Medical University of Innsbruck has comprehensively examined how psilocybin is produced by magic mushrooms .

Produced by a complex biochemical process from the amino acid L-tryptophan, psilocybin’s synthesis involves critical enzymes, including PsiM, a methyltransferase.

“There are many methyl transfer reactions in nature,” said co-author Dirk Hoffmeister, a professor of pharmaceutical microbiology at Friedrich Schiller University Jena and leader of a research group at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute (Leibniz-HKI). “Here, we asked ourselves how exactly psilocybin production is accomplished.” PsiM enzyme’s role in psilocybin production

In a collaborative effort, experts from the Medical University of Innsbruck, led by crystallographer Bernhard Rupp, and Hoffmeister’s team at Jena delved into the PsiM enzyme’s role in psilocybin production using biochemical analysis and X-ray crystal structure analysis, which visualizes proteins at the atomic level.

Their findings revealed that PsiM, crucial for the last two steps of psilocybin synthesis, bears significant structural similarities to enzymes typically involved in RNA modification. Despite some differences, these similarities suggest that PsiM […]

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