Allelic variants of the amylose extender mutation of maize demonstrate phenotypic variation in starch structure resulting from modified protein-protein interactions
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Amylose extender (ae(-)) starches characteristically have modified starch granule morphology resulting from amylopectin with reduced branch frequency and longer glucan chains in clusters, caused by the loss of activity of the major starch branching enzyme (SBE), which in maize endosperm is SBEIIb. A recent study with ae(-) maize lacking the SBEIIb protein (termed ae1.1 herein) showed that novel protein-protein interactions between enzymes of starch biosynthesis in the amyloplast could explain the starch phenotype of the ae1.1 mutant. The present study examined an allelic variant of the ae(-) mutation, ae1.2, which expresses a catalytically inactive form of SBEIIb. The catalytically inactive SBEIIb in ae1.2 lacks a 28 amino acid peptide (Val272-Pro299) and is unable to bind to amylopectin. Analysis of starch from ae1.2 revealed altered granule morphology and physicochemical characteristics distinct from those of the ae1.1 mutant as well as the wild-type, including altered apparent amylose content and gelatinization properties. Starch from ae1.2 had fewer intermediate length glucan chains (degree of polymerization 16-20) than ae1.1. Biochemical analysis of ae1.2 showed that there were differences in the organization and assembly of protein complexes of starch biosynthetic enzymes in comparison with ae1.1 (and wild-type) amyloplasts, which were also reflected in the composition of starch granule-bound proteins. The formation of stromal protein complexes in the wild-type and ae1.2 was strongly enhanced by ATP, and broken by phosphatase treatment, indicating a role for protein phosphorylation in their assembly. Labelling experiments with [γ-(32)P]ATP showed that the inactive form of SBEIIb in ae1.2 was phosphorylated, both in the monomeric form and in association with starch synthase isoforms. Although the inactive SBEIIb was unable to bind starch directly, it was strongly associated with the starch granule, reinforcing the conclusion that its presence in the granules is a result of physical association with other enzymes of starch synthesis. In addition, an Mn(2+)-based affinity ligand, specific for phosphoproteins, was used to show that the granule-bound forms of SBEIIb in the wild-type and ae1.2 were phosphorylated, as was the granule-bound form of SBEI found in ae1.2 starch. The data strongly support the hypothesis that the complement of heteromeric complexes of proteins involved in amylopectin synthesis contributes to the fine structure and architecture of the starch granule.
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