PloS one

Engineering Potato Starch with a Higher Phosphate Content.

PMID 28056069


Phosphate esters are responsible for valuable and unique functionalities of starch for industrial applications. Also in the cell phosphate esters play a role in starch metabolism, which so far has not been well characterized in storage starch. Laforin, a human enzyme composed of a carbohydrate-binding module and a dual-specificity phosphatase domain, is involved in the dephosphorylation of glycogen. To modify phosphate content and better understand starch (de)phosphorylation in storage starch, laforin was engineered and introduced into potato (cultivar Kardal). Interestingly, expression of an (engineered) laforin in potato resulted in significantly higher phosphate content of starch, and this result was confirmed in amylose-free potato genetic background (amf). Modified starches exhibited altered granule morphology and size compared to the control. About 20-30% of the transgenic lines of each series showed red-staining granules upon incubation with iodine, and contained higher phosphate content than the blue-stained starch granules. Moreover, low amylose content and altered gelatinization properties were observed in these red-stained starches. Principle component and correlation analysis disclosed a complex correlation between starch composition and starch physico-chemical properties. Ultimately, the expression level of endogenous genes involved in starch metabolism was analysed, revealing a compensatory response to the decrease of phosphate content in potato starch. This study provides a new perspective for engineering starch phosphate content in planta by making use of the compensatory mechanism in the plant itself.