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Plant Mol Biol. 2003 Nov;53(4):479-92.

Transcriptome analysis reveals novel features of the molecular events occurring in the laticifers of Hevea brasiliensis (para rubber tree).

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Department of Forestry, 126 Natural Resources, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1222, USA.


Latex of Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex A, Juss.) Mull. Arg. (Brazilian rubber tree) contains 30-50% (w/w) of natural rubber (cis-1,4-polyisoprene), which is an important raw material for many industrial uses. In order to gain insights into the molecular events occurring in latex, we analyzed more than 20,000 cDNA-AFLP-based TDFs (transcription-derived fragments) and 1176 ESTs. The results revealed several novel features of the latex transcriptome. First, the repertoire of the genes expressed in latex is unique. Only seven gene families accounted for more than 51% of the latex transcriptome. Among them, two of the most abundant ESTs were the genes encoding rubber particle proteins REF (rubber elongation factor) and SRPP (small rubber particle protein), comprising 29% of the total ESTs. Unexpectedly, several genes involved in the rubber biosynthesis were expressed at low levels in the latex. In fact, genes encoding cis -prenyltransferase (CPT), a potential candidate for rubber polymerase, were not present in the EST pool because of their low expression level. However, we were able to clone four full-length cDNAs by screening the same latex cDNA library used in the EST analysis and confirmed their enzyme activity in vitro. The second most abundant transcripts were defense- or stress-related genes, suggesting that defense is one of the functions of laticifers. Finally, the presence of the non-mevalonate DXP/MEP pathway for IPP synthesis in latex was noted by up-regulation of the 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase gene.

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