Abstract: The effects of engineering higher levels of the High Molecular Weight Glutenin Dx5 subunit on starch characteristics in transgenic wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grain were evaluated. This is important because of the interrelationship between starch and protein accumulation in grain, the strong biotechnological interest in modulating Dx5 levels and the increasing likelihood that transgenic wheat will be commercialized in the U.S. Unintended effects of Dx5 overexpression on starch could affect wheat marketability and therefore should be examined. Two controls with native levels of Dx5 were used: (i) the nontransformed Bobwhite cultivar, and (ii) a transgenic line (Bar-D) expressing a herbicide resistant (bar) gene, and they were compared with 2 transgenic lines (Dx5G and Dx5J) containing bar and additional copies of Dx5. There were few changes between Bar-D and Dx5G compared to Bobwhite. However, Dx5J, the line with the highest Dx5 protein (×3.5) accumulated 140% more hexose, 25% less starch and the starch had a higher frequency of longer amylopectin chains. These differences were not of sufficient magnitude to influence starch functionality, because granule morphology, crystallinity, amylose-to-amylopectin ratio, and the enthalpy of starch gelatinization and the amylose–lipid complex melting were similar to the control (P > 0.05). This overall similarity was borne out by Partial Least Squares-Discriminant Function Analysis, which could not distinguish among genotypes. Collectively our data imply that higher Dx5 can affect starch accumulation and some aspects of starch molecular structure but that the starches of the Dx5 transgenic wheat lines are substantially equivalent to the controls.
Practical Application: Transgenic manipulation of biochemical pathways is an effective way to enhance food sensory quality, but it can also lead to unintended effects. These spurious changes are a concern to Government Regulatory Agencies and to those Industries that market the product. In this study we examined if making “specific” changes to the composition of gluten proteins in wheat seeds would simultaneously alter starch, as their synthesis is interrelated and the molecular structure of both determine f lour functionality. This information may be used to address issues of “substantial equivalence” and to inform Industrial End-Users of possible changes in product performance.