Isoamylase (ISA) is a debranching enzyme found in many plants, which hydrolyzes (1-6)-α-D glucosidic linkages in starch, amylopectin, and β-dextrins, and is thought to be responsible for starch granule formation (ISA1 and ISA2) and degradation (ISA3). Lipid-modified PEI (lmPEI) was synthesized as a carrier for long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA, 250-bp), which targets the three isoamylase isoforms. The particles were applied to the plant via the foliar spray and were differentially effective in suppressing the expressions of ISA1 and ISA2 in the potato leaves, and ISA3 in the tubers. Plant growth was not significantly impaired, and starch levels in the tubers were not affected as well. Interestingly, the treated plants had significantly smaller starch granule sizes as well as increased sucrose content, which led to an early sprouting phenotype. We confirm the proposal of previous research that an increased number of small starch granules could be responsible for an accelerated turnover of glucan chains and, thus, the rapid synthesis of sucrose, and we propose a new relationship between ISA3 and the starch granule size. The implications of this study are in achieving a transgenic phenotype for endogenous plant genes using a systemic, novel delivery system, and foliar applications of dsRNA for agriculture.
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- gene silencing