Many plants produce latex, a specialized, metabolically active cytoplasm. This is generally regarded as a defensive trait but latex may also possess additional functions. We investigated the role of latex in the dandelion species Taraxacum brevicorniculatum that contains considerable amounts of high-quality natural rubber by carrying out a comprehensive analysis of the latex proteome. We developed reliable protocols for the preparation of protein samples for one-dimensional gel electrophoresis, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and subsequent mass spectrometry analysis, which led to 278 unique identifications. A gene ontology classification system based on comparisons with known Arabidopsis thaliana root proteins showed that dandelion proteins involved in lipid metabolism and transport were enriched in the latex proteome, whereas those involved in stress responses were not. We also found that proteins involved in rubber biosynthesis were distributed among different fractions of the latex proteome
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