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Title: Structure, function and regulation of the enzymes in the starch biosynthetic pathway.

Starch is the major reserve polysaccharide in nature and accounts for the majority of the caloric intact of humans. It is also gaining importance as a renewable and biodegradable industrial material. There is burgeoning interest in increasing the amount and altering the properties of the plant starches by plant genetic modification. A rational approach to this effort will require a detailed, atomic-level understanding of the enzymatic processes that produce the starch granule. The starch granule is a complex particle made up of alternating layers of crystalline and amorphous lamellae. It consists of two types of polymer, amylose, a polymer of relatively long chains of α-1,4-linked glucans that contain virtually no branches, and amylopectin, which is highly branched and contains much shorter chains. This complex structure is synthesized by the coordinate activities of the starch synthases (SS), which elongate the polysaccharide chain by addition of glucose units via α-1,4 linkages using ADP- glucose as a donor, and branching enzymes (BE), which branch the polysaccharide chain by cleavage of α₋1,4 linkages and subsequent re-attachment via α₋1,6 linkages. Several isoforms of both starch synthase (SS) and branching enzyme (BE) are found in plants, including SSI, SSII, SSIII and granule- bound SS (GBSS), andmore » SBEI, SBEIIa and SBEIIb. These isoforms have different activities and substrate and product specificities and play different roles in creating the granule and determining the properties of the resulting starch. The overarching goal of this proposal is to begin to understand the regulation and specificities of these enzymes at the atomic level. High-resolution X-ray structures of these enzymes bound to substrates and products will be determined to visualize the molecular interactions responsible for the properties of the enzymes. Hypotheses regarding these issues will then be tested using mutagenesis and enzyme assays. To date, we have determined the structure of ADP- Glucose pyrophosphorylase from potato in its inhibited conformation, and bound to both ATP and ADP-glucose. In addition, we have determined the first structure of glycogen synthase in its "closed", catalytically active conformation bound to ADP-glucose. We also determined the structure of glycogen synthase bound to malto-oligosaccharides, showing for the first time that an enzyme in the starch biosynthetic pathway recognizes glucans not just in its active site but on binding sites on the surface of the enzyme ten’s of Angstroms from the active site. In addition our structure of a glycogen branching enzyme bound to malto-oligosaccharides identified seven distinct binding sites distributed about the surface of the enzyme. We will now determine the function of these sites to get a molecular-level picture of exactly how these enzymes interact with their polymeric substrates and confer specificity leading to the complex structure of the starch granule. We will extend our studies to other isoforms of the enzymes, to understand how their structures give rise to their distinct function. Our goal is to understand what accounts for the various functional differences between SS and SBE isoforms at a molecular level.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
michigan state university
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States