Regulation of sucrose-starch interconversion in plants is important to maintain energy supplies necessary for viability and growth. Arabidopsis mutants were screened for aberrant responses to sucrose to identify candidates with a defect in the regulation of starch biosynthesis. One such mutant, fpgs1-4, accumulated substantial amounts of starch in non-photosynthetic cells. Dark-grown mutant seedlings exhibited shortened hypocotyls and accumulated starch in etioplasts when supplied with exogenous sucrose/glucose. Similar starch accumulation from exogenous sucrose was observed in mutant chloroplasts, when photosynthesis was prevented by organ culture in darkness. Molecular genetic analyses revealed that the mutant was defective in plastidial folylpolyglutamate synthetase, one of the enzymes engaged in folate biosynthesis. Active folate derivatives are important biomolecules that function as cofactors for a variety of enzymes. Exogenously supplied 5-formyl-tetrahydrofolate abrogated the mutant phenotypes, indicating that the fpgs1-4 mutant produced insufficient folate derivative levels. In addition, the antifolate agents methotrexate and 5-fluorouracil induced starch accumulation from exogenously supplied sucrose in darkgrown seedlings of wild-type Arabidopsis. These results indicate that plastidial folate suppresses starch biosynthesis triggered by sugar influx into non-photosynthetic cells, demonstrating a hitherto unsuspected link between plastidial folate and starch metabolism.
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