Starch-branching enzyme IIa is required for proper diurnal cycling of starch in leaves of maize

Marna D. Yandeau-Nelson, Lieve Laurens, Zi Shi, Huan Xia, Alison M. Smith, Mark J. Guiltinan

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35 Scopus citations


Starch-branching enzyme (SBE), a glucosyl transferase, is required for the highly regular pattern of a-1,6 bonds in the amylopectin component of starch. In the absence of SBEIIa, as shown previously in the sbe2a mutant of maize (Zea mays), leaf starch has drastically reduced branching and the leaves exhibit a severe senescence-like phenotype. Detailed characterization of the maize sbe2a mutant revealed that SBEIIa is the primary active branching enzyme in the leaf and that in its absence plant growth is affected. Both seedling and mature sbe2a mutant leaves do not properly degrade starch during the night, resulting in hyperaccumulation. In mature sbe2a leaves, starch hyperaccumulation is greatest in visibly senescing regions but also observed in green tissue and is correlated to a drastic reduction in photosynthesis within the leaf. Starch granules from sbe2a leaves observed via scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy analyses are larger, irregular, and amorphous as compared with the highly regular, discoid starch granules observed in wild-type leaves. This appears to trigger premature senescence, as shown by an increased expression of genes encoding proteins known to be involved in senescence and programmed cell death processes. Together, these results indicate that SBEIIa is required for the proper diurnal cycling of transitory starch within the leaf and suggest that SBEIIa is necessary in producing an amylopectin structure amenable to degradation by starch metabolism enzymes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-490
Number of pages12
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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