The Effect of Autophagy on the Mechanical Properties of Filamentous Fungal Cell Wall

Usha Sripathineni

Filamentous fungi play an important role having both harmful and beneficial effects on life. They pose an increasing threat to the quality of life in plants, animals and humans. On the other hand they are used extensively in many bio-processing and biotechnology industries for producing a number of therapeutics, vaccines, chemicals and food products. In all of these situations, fungi have the potential to face nutrient deficiencies. A general eukaryotic response to starvation conditions (glucose and nitrogen starvation) is a degradative pathway called autophagy.

We hypothesize that autophagy is involved in rearranging and/or recycling macromolecules under starvation conditions and that some of these molecules are involved in cell wall development. Thus, this study aims at understanding the role autophagy plays in altering the cell wall material properties during starvation conditions. We will achieve this by inducing autophagy with rapamycin (immunosuppressive drug) treatment or by exposing the Atg mutant cells (cells with autophagy specific gene deletions) to nutrient starvation conditions and then by studying their cell wall material properties, stiffness and strength.