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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2005;56:73-98.

Starch degradation.

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Department of Metabolic Biology, John Innes Centre, Norwich NR4 7UH, United Kingdom.


Recent research reveals that starch degradation in Arabidopsis leaves at night is significantly different from the "textbook" version of this process. Although parts of the pathway are now understood, other parts remain to be discovered. Glucans derived from starch granules are hydrolyzed via beta-amylase to maltose, which is exported from the chloroplast. In the cytosol maltose is the substrate for a transglucosylation reaction, producing glucose and a glucosylated acceptor molecule. The enzyme that attacks the starch granule to release glucans is not known, nor is the nature of the cytosolic acceptor molecule. An Arabidopsis-type pathway may operate in leaves of other species, and in nonphotosynthetic organs that accumulate starch transiently. However, in starch-storing organs such as cereal endosperms and legume seeds, the process differs from that in Arabidopsis and may more closely resemble the textbook pathway. We discuss the differences in relation to the biology of each system.

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