Date of Award

12-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Paul M. Dalhaimer

Committee Members

Eric T. Boder, Todd Reynolds, Paul Frymier

Abstract

Cellular function relies on the proper sequestration of fats in organelles called lipid droplets. Lipid droplet metabolism is inherently linked to many disorders including obesity, type-2 diabetes, and atherosclerosis, so further elucidation of the bio-physical phenomena governing these diseases, is crucial for their respective treatments.

Once widely regarded as inert, these neutral lipid storage depots are highly dynamic and are increasingly shown to affect a wide array of biological processes. Droplet formation requires the accumulation of neutral lipids and related factors at specific cellular domains, however because this occurs at nanometer length-scales, details are lacking. Here, we try to provide further insights into how these events are induced using the popular fission yeast model, Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Initially utilizing mass spectrometry, we uncovered proteomic factors which localize to droplet surfaces during known periods of LD biogenesis. We showed one of these proteins contributes in maintaining LD homeostasis. In a separate study, we identified spatial biases of droplet formation and discovered possible mechanisms for why this was occurring. Lastly, we investigated the potential of fission yeast as a biofuels producing platform, by maximizing lipid droplet synthesis and ultimately triacylglycerol production.

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