Starch is synthesised through the ADP-glucose pathway, involving the three enzymes ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase, starch synthase and starch branching enzyme. ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase is the key enzyme of the pathway, determining the flux of carbon into starch. It generates ADP-glucose, which is the substrate for the starch synthases, from glucose-1-phosphate and ATP releasing pyrophosphate. The enzyme is stimulated by 3-phosphoglycerate and inhibited through inorganic phosphate. The starch synthases, which catalyse the transfer of glucose from ADP-glucose to the nonreducing end of a growing alpha-1,4-glucan, are divided into two classes, the granule-bound starch synthases (GBSS) and the soluble starch synthases (SS). In both classes several isoforms have been described from many different plant species. The branching enzyme, which introduces branchpoints into the amylopectin, can also occur in different isoforms. Other enzymes present in plants, which also act on alpha-1,4-glucans, such as the starch phosphorylases, disproportionating enzyme and different starch hydrolases, might also be important for dertermining the starch structure and, therefore, its processibility. Many aspects of starch synthesis are not fully understood to date. Starch metabolism can be manipulated through genetic engineering, either by the ectopic expression of different heterologous genes, or through the repression of the expression of endogenous genes using antisense RNA technology. This not only allows the functional analysis of starch biosynthetic proteins, but also the manipulation of starch structure in order to widen its industrial applications.
In this way many different potato lines have been generated, containing either different amounts of starch, or which synthesize a structurally modified starch. These structural changes relate to the amylose content, the phosphate content, or the gelatinisation and gelation characteristics of the starch.