Nicotiana tabacum leaves are covered by trichomes involved in the secretion of large amounts of secondary metabolites, some of which play a major role in plant defense. However, little is known about the metabolic pathways that operate in these structures. We undertook a proteomic analysis of N. tabacum trichomes in order to identify their protein complement. Efficient trichome isolation was obtained by abrading frozen leaves. After homogenization, soluble proteins and a microsomal fraction were prepared by centrifugation. Gel-based and gel-free proteomic analyses were then performed. 2-DE analysis of soluble proteins led to the identification of 1373 protein spots, which were digested and analyzed by MS/MS, leading to 680 unique identifications. Both soluble proteins and microsomal fraction were analyzed by LC MALDI-MS/MS after trypsin digestion, leading to 858 identifications, many of which had not been identified after 2-DE, indicating that the two methods complement each other. Many enzymes putatively involved in secondary metabolism were identified, including enzymes involved in the synthesis of terpenoid precursors and in acyl sugar production. Several transporters were also identified, some of which might be involved in secondary metabolite transport. Various (a)biotic stress response proteins were also detected, supporting the role of trichomes in plant defense.
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