, Volume 243, Issue 1, pp 13–22 | Cite as

Progress in controlling starch structure by modifying starch-branching enzymes

  • Cheng Li
  • Robert G. GilbertEmail author


Main conclusion

This paper reviews the progress of development of plants with desirable starch structure by modifying starch branching enzymes. Starch-branching enzyme (SBE) is responsible for the creation of branches during starch biosynthesis in plastids, and is a major determinant of the final fine structure and physical properties of the starch.

Multiple isoforms of SBE have been found in plants, with each playing a different role in amylopectin synthesis. Different methods have been used to develop desirable starch structures by modifying the SBE activity. These can involve changing its expression level (either up-regulation or down-regulation), genetically modifying the activity of the SBE itself, and varying the length of its transferred chains. Changing the activity and the transferred chain length of SBE has been less studied than changing the expression level of SBE in vivo. This article reviews and summarizes new tools for developing plants producing the next generation of starches.


Starch-branching enzyme Starch structure Expression level Activity Transferred chain length 



Starch-branching enzyme


Starch synthase


Debranching enzyme


Resistant starch


Size-exclusion chromatography


Fluorophore-assisted carbohydrate electrophoresis


High-performance anion-exchange chromatography


Nuclear magnetic resonance


Targeted induced local lesions in genome


Single-nucleotide polymorphisms



We thank Dr. Alex Chi Wu for insightful discussion and Dr. Mitchell A. Sullivan for manuscript review. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the 1000-Talents Program of the Chinese Foreign Experts Bureau.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tongji School of PharmacyHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  2. 2.Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences, Queensland Alliance for Agricultural and Food InnovationThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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