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The Role of RNA Polymerase and the Death Cap Mushroom Essay

Being a health care worker, the role of how substances affect the body are always fascinating and intriguing. The role of the Death Cap Mushroom, which is appropriately named, is one that is simple but can have fatal implications. In Britain, the Death Cap Mushroom is attributed to 75% of all fatalities that are caused by ingesting mushrooms (Kibby, 2006). These are deaths that are certainly avoidable, but yet continue to happen. The Death Cap Mushroom scientific name is the Amanita phallodes. When it is ingested, it causes a deadly reaction in the human body. The major toxin mechanism is the inhibition of RNA polymerase II in DNA reproduction. The reason this becomes deadly is that this is a vital enzyme in the synthesis of the messenger RNA and without it, protein synthesis cannot happen and new cell production ceases. (Karlson-Stiber C, Persson, H (2003). When the human body is no longer able to recreate the template for new cell reproduction, the old cells die and new ones can no longer be reproduced and this quickly causes system failure in the body and the organs begin to fail rapidly. Due to the onset of symptoms taking between 12 and 30 hours to be visible, the damage has already taken place and is irreparable and can quickly lead to death. (Elpel, T (2011).

The two vital organs that are affected first are usually the liver and the kidneys. This can quickly become a life threatening process. Although there is no cure for the toxicity, it has been treated with large doses of penicillin and Vitamin C, but there this is not a proven treatment and the only prevention of the ingestion of these mushrooms is safe. In most cases, if the person actually survives, a liver transplant would be needed to allow the person to live. Education on how deadly ingesting the Death Cap mushroom is sorely needed to prevent the unnecessary deaths that it causes each year.


1.Kibby, Guide to mushrooms of Britain and Europe, Octopus Publishing, (2006) 2.Karlson-Striber C, Persson, H, (2003)Cyto toxic fungi
overview-Toxic 3.Elpel, T (2011) Amanitaeac: The Deadly Amanita Family

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