Identification of multiple phosphorylation sites on maize endosperm starch branching enzyme IIb, a key enzyme in amylopectin biosynthesis [Enzymology]

February 18th, 2014 by Makhmoudova, A., Williams, D., Brewer, D., Massey, S., Patterson, J., Silva, A., Vassall, K. A., Liu, F., Subedi, S., Harauz, G., Siu, K. W. M., Tetlow, I. J., Emes, M. J.

Starch branching enzyme IIb (SBEIIb) plays a crucial role in amylopectin biosynthesis in maize endosperm by defining the structural and functional properties of storage starch and is regulated by protein phosphorylation. Native and recombinant maize SBEIIb were used as substrates for amyloplast protein kinases in order to identify phosphorylation sites on the protein. A multi-disciplinary approach involving bioinformatics, site-directed mutagenesis and mass spectrometry identified three phosphorylation sites at Ser residues; Ser649, Ser286 and Ser297. Two Ca2+-dependent protein kinase activities were partially purified from amyloplasts, termed K1, responsible for Ser649and Ser286 phosphorylation, and K2, responsible for Ser649and Ser297 phosphorylation. The Ser286 and Ser297 phosphorylation sites are conserved in all plant branching enzymes and are located at opposite openings of the 8-stranded parallel β-barrel of the active site which is involved with substrate binding and catalysis. Molecular dynamics simulation analysis indicates that phospho-Ser297 forms a stable salt bridge with Arg665, part of a conserved Cys-containing domain in plant branching enzymes. Ser649 conservation appears confined to the enzyme in cereals and is not universal, and is presumably associated with functions specific to seed storage. The implications of SBEIIb phosphorylation are considered in terms of the role of the enzyme and the importance of starch biosynthesis for yield and biotechnological application.
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