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Initiator-independent and initiator-dependent rubber biosynthesis in Ficus elastica

Espy, Stephanie C., Keasling, Jay D., Castillon, Javier, Cornish, Katrina
Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 2006 v.448 no.1-2 pp. 13-22
Ficus elastica, latex, rubber, polymerization, alkyl (aryl) transferases, isomerases, enzyme activity, coenzymes, magnesium, manganese, EDTA (chelating agent)
The rubber-producing tree, Ficus elastica (the Indian rubber tree), requires the same substrates for rubber production as other rubber-producing plants, such as Hevea brasiliensis (the Brazilian or Para rubber tree), the major source of commercial natural rubber in the world, and Parthenium argentatum (guayule), a widely studied alternative for natural rubber production currently under commercial development. Rubber biosynthesis can be studied, in vitro, using purified, enzymatically active rubber particles, an initiator such as FPP, IPP as the source of monomer, and a metal cofactor such as Mg2+. However, unlike H. brasiliensis and P. argentatum, we show that enzymatically active rubber particles purified from F. elastica are able to synthesize rubber, in vitro, in the absence of added initiator. In this paper, we characterize, for the first time, the kinetic differences between initiator-dependent rubber biosynthesis, and initiator-independent rubber biosynthesis, and the effect of cofactor concentration on both of these processes.