Rubber from dandelions - Scientists identify key components in the formation of rubber

Two protein families required for rubber biosynthesis in Taraxacum brevicorniculatum have recently been characterized, namely the cis-prenyltransferases and the small rubber particle proteins. The latter were shown to be the most abundant proteins on rubber particles, where rubber biosynthesis takes place. Here we identified a protein designated T. brevicorniculatum rubber elongation factor by using mass spectrometry to analyze rubber particle proteins. TbREF is homologous to the TbSRPPs but has a molecular mass that is atypical for the family.
The promoter was shown to be active in laticifers, and the protein itself was localized on the rubber particle surface. In TbREF-silenced plants generated by RNA interference, the rubber content was significantly reduced, correlating with lower TbCPT protein levels and less TbCPT activity in the latex. However, the molecular mass of the rubber was not affected by TbREF silencing. The colloidal stability of rubber particles isolated from TbREF-silenced plants was also unchanged. This was not surprising because TbREF depletion did not affect the abundance of TbSRPPs, which are required for rubber particle stability. Our findings suggest that TbREF is an important component of the rubber biosynthesis machinery in T. brevicorniculatum, and may play a role in rubber particle biogenesis and influence rubber production.