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1.  Characterization of rubber particles and rubber chain elongation in Taraxacum koksaghyz 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:11.
Background
Natural rubber is a biopolymer with exceptional qualities that cannot be completely replaced using synthetic alternatives. Although several key enzymes in the rubber biosynthetic pathway have been isolated, mainly from plants such as Hevea brasiliensis, Ficus spec. and the desert shrub Parthenium argentatum, there have been no in planta functional studies, e.g. by RNA interference, due to the absence of efficient and reproducible protocols for genetic engineering. In contrast, the Russian dandelion Taraxacum koksaghyz, which has long been considered as a potential alternative source of low-cost natural rubber, has a rapid life cycle and can be genetically transformed using a simple and reliable procedure. However, there is very little molecular data available for either the rubber polymer itself or its biosynthesis in T. koksaghyz.
Results
We established a method for the purification of rubber particles - the active sites of rubber biosynthesis - from T. koksaghyz latex. Photon correlation spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy revealed an average particle size of 320 nm, and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy confirmed that isolated rubber particles contain poly(cis-1,4-isoprene) with a purity >95%. Size exclusion chromatography indicated that the weight average molecular mass (w) of T. koksaghyz natural rubber is 4,000-5,000 kDa. Rubber particles showed rubber transferase activity of 0.2 pmol min-1 mg-1. Ex vivo rubber biosynthesis experiments resulted in a skewed unimodal distribution of [1-14C]isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) incorporation at a w of 2,500 kDa. Characterization of recently isolated cis-prenyltransferases (CPTs) from T. koksaghyz revealed that these enzymes are associated with rubber particles and are able to produce long-chain polyprenols in yeast.
Conclusions
T. koksaghyz rubber particles are similar to those described for H. brasiliensis. They contain very pure, high molecular mass poly(cis-1,4-isoprene) and the chain elongation process can be studied ex vivo. Because of their localization on rubber particles and their activity in yeast, we propose that the recently described T. koksaghyz CPTs are the major rubber chain elongating enzymes in this species. T. koksaghyz is amenable to genetic analysis and modification, and therefore could be used as a model species for the investigation and comparison of rubber biosynthesis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2091-11-11
PMCID: PMC2836272  PMID: 20170509
2.  Studies of the intermediary metabolism in cultured cells of the insect Spodoptera frugiperda using 13C- or 15N-labelled tracers 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:24.
Background
Insect cells can serve as host systems for the recombinant expression of eukaryotic proteins. Using this platform, the controlled expression of 15N/13C labelled proteins requires the analysis of incorporation paths and rates of isotope-labelled precursors present in the medium into amino acids. For this purpose, Spodoptera frugiperda cells were grown in a complex medium containing [U-13C6]glucose. In a second experiment, cultures of S. frugiperda were grown in the presence of 15N-phenylalanine.
Results
Quantitative NMR analysis showed incorporation of the proffered [U-13C6]glucose into the ribose moiety of ribonucleosides (40 – 45%) and into the amino acids, alanine (41%), glutamic acid/glutamine (C-4 and C-5, 30%) and aspartate/asparagine (15%). Other amino acids and the purine ring of nucleosides were not formed from exogenous glucose in significant amounts (> 5%). Prior to the incorporation into protein the proffered 15N-phenylalanine lost about 70% of its label by transamination and the labelled compound was not converted into tyrosine to a significant extent.
Conclusion
Growth of S. frugiperda cells in the presence of [U-13C6]glucose is conducive to the fractional labelling of ribonucleosides, alanine, glutamic acid/glutamine and aspartic acid/asparagine. The isotopolog compositions of the ribonucleosides and of alanine indicate considerable recycling of carbohydrate intermediates in the reductive branch of the pentose phosphate pathway. The incorporation of 15N-labelled amino acids may be hampered by loss of the 15N-label by transamination.
doi:10.1186/1471-2091-6-24
PMCID: PMC1310531  PMID: 16285881
3.  Riboflavin synthase of Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Protein dynamics revealed by 19F NMR protein perturbation experiments 
BMC Biochemistry  2003;4:18.
Background
Riboflavin synthase catalyzes the transformation of 6,7-dimethyl-8-ribityllumazine into riboflavin in the last step of the riboflavin biosynthetic pathway. Gram-negative bacteria and certain yeasts are unable to incorporate riboflavin from the environment and are therefore absolutely dependent on endogenous synthesis of the vitamin. Riboflavin synthase is therefore a potential target for the development of antiinfective drugs.
Results
A cDNA sequence from Schizosaccharomyces pombe comprising a hypothetical open reading frame with similarity to riboflavin synthase of Escherichia coli was expressed in a recombinant E. coli strain. The recombinant protein is a homotrimer of 23 kDa subunits as shown by sedimentation equilibrium centrifugation. The protein sediments at an apparent velocity of 4.1 S at 20°C. The amino acid sequence is characterized by internal sequence similarity indicating two similar folding domains per subunit. The enzyme catalyzes the formation of riboflavin from 6,7-dimethyl-8-ribityllumazine at a rate of 158 nmol mg-1 min-1 with an apparent KM of 5.7 microM. 19F NMR protein perturbation experiments using fluorine-substituted intermediate analogs show multiple signals indicating that a given ligand can be bound in at least 4 different states. 19F NMR signals of enzyme-bound intermediate analogs were assigned to ligands bound by the N-terminal respectively C-terminal folding domain on basis of NMR studies with mutant proteins.
Conclusion
Riboflavin synthase of Schizosaccharomyces pombe is a trimer of identical 23-kDa subunits. The primary structure is characterized by considerable similarity of the C-terminal and N-terminal parts. Riboflavin synthase catalyzes a mechanistically complex dismutation of 6,7-dimethyl-8-ribityllumazine affording riboflavin and 5-amino-6-ribitylamino-2,4(1H,3H)-pyrimidinedione. The 19F NMR data suggest large scale dynamic mobility in the trimeric protein which may play an important role in the reaction mechanism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2091-4-18
PMCID: PMC337094  PMID: 14690539

Results 1-3 (3)