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Plant Cell. 2003 Mar;15(3):666-80.

Mutational analysis of the pullulanase-type debranching enzyme of maize indicates multiple functions in starch metabolism.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.


Plants contain two types of alpha(1-->6) glucan hydrolase (starch-debranching enzyme [DBE]). Mutations that affect the pullulanase-type DBE have not been described, although defects in isoamylase-type DBE, known in many plant species, indicate a function in starch biosynthesis. We describe a null mutation of a pullulanase-type DBE gene, a Mutator insertion in maize Zpu1. Plants homozygous for the zpu1-204 mutation are impaired in transient and storage starch degradation. Thus, hydrolytic activity of pullulanase-type DBE contributes to starch catabolism. Developing zpu1-204 endosperm accumulates branched maltooligosaccharides not found in the wild type and is deficient in linear maltooligosaccharides, indicating that the pullulanase-type DBE functions in glucan hydrolysis during kernel starch formation. Furthermore, in a background deficient in isoamylase-type DBE, zpu1-204 conditions a significant accumulation of phytoglycogen in the kernel that is not seen in the wild type. Therefore, pullulanase-type DBE partially compensates for the defect in isoamylase-type DBE, suggesting a function during starch synthesis as well as degradation.

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