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Biopolymers. 2009 Mar;91(3):179-93. doi: 10.1002/bip.21111.

Starch phosphorylation--maltosidic restrains upon 3'- and 6'-phosphorylation investigated by chemical synthesis, molecular dynamics and NMR spectroscopy.

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Department of Food Science, Quality and Technology, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 30, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


Phosphorylation is the only known in vivo substitution of starch, yet no structural evidence has been provided to explain its implications of the amylosidic backbone and its stimulating effects on starch degradation in plants. In this study, we provide evidence for a major influence on the glucosidic bond in starch specifically induced by the 3-O-phosphate. Two phosphorylated maltose model compounds were synthesized and subjected to combined molecular dynamics (MD) studies and 950 MHz NMR studies. The two phosphorylated disaccharides represent the two possible phosphorylation sites observed in natural starches, namely maltose phosphorylated at the 3'- and 6'-position (maltose-3'-O-phosphate and maltose-6'-O-phosphate). When compared with maltose, both of the maltose-phosphates exhibit a restricted conformational space of the alpha(1-->4) glycosidic linkage. When maltose is phosphorylated in the 3'-position, MD and NMR show that the glucosidic space is seriously restricted to one narrow potential energy well which is strongly offset from the global potential energy well of maltose and almost 50 degrees degrees from the Phi angle of the alpha-maltose crystal structure. The driving force is primarily steric, but the configuration of the structural waters is also significantly altered. Both the favored conformation of the maltose-3'-phosphate and the maltose-6'-phosphate align well into the 6-fold double helical structure of amylopectin when the effects on the glucosidic bond are not taken into account. However, the restrained geometry of the glucosidic linkage of maltose-3'-phosphate cannot be accommodated in the helical structure, suggesting a major local disturbing effect, if present in the starch granule semi-crystalline lattice.

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