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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2016 Jul;73(14):2781-807. doi: 10.1007/s00018-016-2250-x. Epub 2016 May 11.

Formation of starch in plant cells.

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Department of Biology, ETH Zurich, 8092, Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Biology, ETH Zurich, 8092, Zurich, Switzerland.


Starch-rich crops form the basis of our nutrition, but plants have still to yield all their secrets as to how they make this vital substance. Great progress has been made by studying both crop and model systems, and we approach the point of knowing the enzymatic machinery responsible for creating the massive, insoluble starch granules found in plant tissues. Here, we summarize our current understanding of these biosynthetic enzymes, highlighting recent progress in elucidating their specific functions. Yet, in many ways we have only scratched the surface: much uncertainty remains about how these components function together and are controlled. We flag-up recent observations suggesting a significant degree of flexibility during the synthesis of starch and that previously unsuspected non-enzymatic proteins may have a role. We conclude that starch research is not yet a mature subject and that novel experimental and theoretical approaches will be important to advance the field.


Amylopectin; Amylose; Arabidopsis thaliana; Protein complex formation; Protein phosphorylation

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