Publication Title: 
Cherian et al. (2019)
Natural rubber biosynthesis in plants, the rubber transferase complex, and metabolic engineering progress and prospects.
Cherian Sam, Ryu Stephen Beungtae, Cornish Katrina
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Series Name: 
Plant biotechnology journal
Natural rubber (NR) is a non-fungible and valuable biopolymer, used to manufacture ~50,000 rubber products, including tires and medical gloves. Current production of NR is derived entirely from the para rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). The increasing demand for NR, coupled with limitations and vulnerability of H. brasiliensis production systems, have induced increasing interest among scientists and companies in potential alternative NR crops. Genetic/metabolic pathway engineering approaches, to generate NR-enriched genotypes of alternative NR plants, are of great importance. However, although our knowledge of rubber biochemistry has significantly advanced, our current understanding of NR biosynthesis, the biosynthetic machinery, and the molecular mechanisms involved, remains incomplete. Two spatially separated metabolic pathways provide precursors for NR biosynthesis in plants and their genes and enzymes/complexes are quite well understood. In contrast, understanding of the proteins and genes involved in the final step(s) - the synthesis of the high molecular weight rubber polymer itself - is only now beginning to emerge. In this review, we provide a critical evaluation of recent research developments in NR biosynthesis, in vitro reconstitution, and the genetic and metabolic pathway engineering advances intended to improve NR content in plants, including H. brasiliensis, two other prospective alternative rubber crops, namely the rubber dandelion and guayule, and model species, such as lettuce. We describe a new model of the rubber transferase complex which integrates these developments. In addition, we highlight the current challenges in NR biosynthesis research, and future perspectives on metabolic pathway engineering of NR to speed alternative rubber crop commercial development. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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