Silencing the lettuce homologs of small rubber particle protein does not influence natural rubber biosynthesis in lettuce (Lactuca sativa).

PMID 25553584


Natural rubber, cis-1,4-polyisoprene, is an important raw material in chemical industries, but its biosynthetic mechanism remains elusive. Natural rubber is known to be synthesized in rubber particles suspended in laticifer cells in the Brazilian rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). In the rubber tree, rubber elongation factor (REF) and its homolog, small rubber particle protein (SRPP), were found to be the most abundant proteins in rubber particles, and they have been implicated in natural rubber biosynthesis. As lettuce (Lactuca sativa) can synthesize natural rubber, we utilized this annual, transformable plant to examine in planta roles of the lettuce REF/SRPP homologs by RNA interference. Among eight lettuce REF/SRPP homologs identified, transcripts of two genes (LsSRPP4 and LsSRPP8) accounted for more than 90% of total transcripts of REF/SRPP homologs in lettuce latex. LsSRPP4 displays a typical primary protein sequence as other REF/SRPP, while LsSRPP8 is twice as long as LsSRPP4. These two major LsSRPP transcripts were individually and simultaneously silenced by RNA interference, and relative abundance, polymer molecular weight, and polydispersity of natural rubber were analyzed from the LsSRPP4- and LsSRPP8-silenced transgenic lettuce. Despite previous data suggesting the implications of REF/SRPP in natural rubber biosynthesis, qualitative and quantitative alterations of natural rubber could not be observed in transgenic lettuce lines. It is concluded that lettuce REF/SRPP homologs are not critically important proteins in natural rubber biosynthesis in lettuce.