Structure of starch synthase I from barley: insight into regulatory mechanisms of starch synthase activity

Jose A. Cuesta-Seijo, Morten M. Nielsen, Lucia Marri, Hidenori Tanaka, Sophie R. Beeren, Monica M. Palcic

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Starch, a polymer of glucose, is the major source of calories in the human diet. It has numerous industrial uses, including as a raw material for the production of first-generation bioethanol. Several classes of enzymes take part in starch biosynthesis, of which starch synthases (SSs) carry out chain elongation of both amylose and amylopectin. Plants have five classes of SS, each with different roles. The products of the reaction of SS are well known, but details of the reaction mechanism remain obscure and even less is known of how different SSs select different substrates for elongation, how they compete with each other and how their activities are regulated. Here, the first crystal structure of a soluble starch synthase is presented: that of starch synthase I (SSI) from barley refined to 2.7 Å resolution. The structure captures an open conformation of the enzyme with a surface-bound maltooligosaccharide and a disulfide bridge that precludes formation of the active site. The maltooligosaccharide-binding site is involved in substrate recognition, while the disulfide bridge is reflective of redox regulation of SSI. Activity measurements on several SSI mutants supporting these roles are also presented.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Crystallographica. Section D: Biological Crystallography
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1013-1025
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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