Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Dawe, Angus L.

Committee Member

Wang, Ying

Committee Member

Li, Ling

Committee Member

Thornton, Justin A.

Committee Member

Popescu, Sorina

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Intracellular sterol redistribution is an important step in the lipid homeostasis of organisms, a process directly linked to the organizational arrangement in the plasma membrane (PM) of cells. Previous studies in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have demonstrated that the ARV1 (ACAT-related enzyme-2 required for viability 1) protein is a major regulator of sterol transport from the endoplasmic reticulum to the plasma membrane, contributing to the structural organization of the PM, rendering it resistant to anti-fungal compounds as well as maintaining ER integrity. This study assessed the significance of ARV1 in the plant pathogenic fungus Cryphonectria parasitica (Cparv1) and investigated its role in the pathogenesis and virulence of the fungus. C. parasitica is the causative agent of Chestnut blight, which has wreaked havoc on the American chestnut species. Genomic analysis revealed that the Cparv1 gene is very closely linked to another gene that putatively encodes a cyanamide hydratase (Cpcah). An initial gene deletion event resulted in the elimination of both genes and a highly deformed phenotype in C. parasitica that was fully recoverable by complementation. PCR-based expression analysis determined that the lack of Cparv1 was responsible for the debilitated phenotype of the double mutant, with no transcript detectable from Cpcah. Subsequent complementation of the Cparv1 gene was also observed to restore the wildtype phenotype. Mass spectrometry-based (MS) results indicated a decrease in sterol content of the DCparv1 mutant strain compared to wildtype EP155 thus confirming a role for Cparv1 in sterol homeostasis. It has been shown that infection of C. parasitica with virulence-attenuating hypoviruses altered intracellular lipid content and protein secretion. Ultrastructure studies conducted on the Cparv1 strain showed disrupted organelle integrity and the presence of cytoplasmic double membrane stretches. Decreased sterol content in C. parasitica infected with CHV1-EP713 was observed similar to DCparv1 suggesting a connection between the hypovirus-infected phenotype and Cparv1. Furthermore, a non-targeted metabolomic study on all three strains identified 324 metabolites. Through the subsequent pathway analysis, we have investigated the pleiotropic effects in the C. parasitica strains and established a mechanistic linkage between this the activity of the ARV-1 protein and the hypovirus-infected phenotype.

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