Background: The transport of sugars, hormones, amino acids, proteins, sugar alcohols, and other organic compounds from the sites of synthesis to the sites of use or storage occurs through the conducting cells of the phloem. To better understand these processes a comprehensive understanding of the proteins involved is required. While a considerable amount of data has been obtained from proteomic analyses of phloem sap, this has mainly served to identify the soluble proteins that are translocated through the phloem network. Results: In order to obtain more comprehensive proteomic data from phloem tissue we developed a simple dissection procedure to isolate phloem tissue from Brassica oleracea. The presence of a high density of phloem sieve elements was confirmed using light microscopy and fluorescently labeled sieve element-specific antibodies. To increase the depth of the proteomic analysis for membrane bound and associated proteins, soluble proteins were extracted first and subsequent extractions were carried out using two different detergents (SDS and CHAPSO). Across all three extractions almost four hundred proteins were identified and each extraction method added to the analysis demonstrating the utility of an approach combining several extraction protocols.Conclusions: The phloem was found to be enriched in proteins associated with biotic and abiotic stress responses and structural proteins. Subsequent expression analysis identified a number of genes that appear to be expressed exclusively or at very high levels in phloem tissue, including genes that are known to express specifically in the phloem as well as novel phloem genes.
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