Determining protein identity from sieve element sap in Ricinus communis L. by quadrupole time of flight (Q-TOF) mass spectrometry

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The phloem transport system is a complex tissue that primarily carries photoassimilate from source to sink. Its function depends on anucleate sieve elements (SE) supported by companion cells (CC). In this study, SE sap was sampled and the protein identity of soluble proteins was determined with the aim of understanding the function of proteins within the conduit. Unlike many plants, SE sap exudes from incisions in the bark of Ricinus communis and, although there is a greater possibility of contamination from tissues other than SE, sap can be obtained in sufficient quantities to separate proteins using 2D electrophoresis. Spots were excised for trypsin digest, then analysed by quadrupole time of flight (Q-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) and database searched to determine sequence identity. Overall, 18 proteins were identified in the SE-enriched sap. Proteins identified that have not previously been identified directly from SE sap included a glycine-rich RNA-binding protein, metallothionein, phosphoglycerate mutase, and phosphopyruvate hydratase. The potential role of the identified protein in SE function is discussed. The protein identification in this study provides a first step towards the goal of a greater understanding of the function of proteins within the SE.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1473-1481
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number402
Early online date18 Jun 2004
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2004


  • aphid, cyclophilin, sieve-element, protein, QTOF, companion cell, quadrupole time-of-flight, phloem, MS