Jump to Main Content
Initiation of rubber biosynthesis: In vitro comparisons of benzophenone-modified diphosphate analogues in three rubber-producing species
- Xie, Wenshuang, McMahan, Colleen M., DeGraw, Amanda J., Distefano, Mark D., Cornish, Katrina, Whalen, Maureen C., Shintani, David K.
- Phytochemistry 2008 v.69 no.14 pp. 2539
- Ficus elastica, Hevea brasiliensis, Parthenium argentatum, rubber, isoprenoids, biosynthesis, benzophenone
- Natural rubber, cis-1,4-polyisoprene, is a vital industrial material synthesized by plants via a side branch of the isoprenoid pathway by the enzyme rubber transferase. While the specific structure of this enzyme is not yet defined, based on activity it is probably a cis-prenyl transferase. Photoactive functionalized substrate analogues have been successfully used to identify isoprenoid-utilizing enzymes such as cis- and trans-prenyltransferases, and initiator binding of an allylic pyrophosphate molecule in rubber transferase has similar features to these systems. In this paper, a series of benzophenone-modified initiator analogues were shown to successfully initiate rubber biosynthesis in vitro in enzymatically-active washed rubber particles from Ficus elastica, Hevea brasiliensis and Parthenium argentatum. Rubber transferases from all three species initiated rubber biosynthesis most efficiently with farnesyl pyrophosphate. However, rubber transferase had a higher affinity for benzophenone geranyl pyrophosphate (Bz-GPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (Bz-DMAPP) analogues with ether-linkages than the corresponding GPP or DMAPP. In contrast, ester-linked Bz-DMAPP analogues were less efficient initiators than DMAPP. Thus, rubber biosynthesis depends on both the size and the structure of Bz-initiator molecules. Kinetic studies thereby inform selection of specific probes for covalent photolabeling of the initiator binding site of rubber transferase.