Enzymes involved in the triacylglycerol (TAG) biosynthesis have been well studied in the model organisms of yeasts and animals. Among these, the isoforms of glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) redundantly catalyze the first and rate-limiting step in glycerolipid synthesis. Here, we report the functions of mrGAT, a GPAT ortholog, in an insect-pathogenic fungus, Metarhizium robertsii. Unlike in yeasts and animals, a single copy of the mrGAT gene is present in the fungal genome and the gene deletion mutant is viable. Compared to the wild type and the gene-rescued mutant, the ΔmrGAT mutant demonstrated reduced abilities to produce conidia and synthesize TAG, glycerol, and total lipids. More importantly, we found that mrGAT is localized to the endoplasmic reticulum and directly linked to the formation of lipid droplets (LDs) in fungal cells. Insect bioassay results showed that mrGAT is required for full fungal virulence by aiding fungal penetration of host cuticles. Data from this study not only advance our understanding of GPAT functions in fungi but also suggest that filamentous fungi such as M. robertsii can serve as a good model to elucidate the role of the glycerol phosphate pathway in fungal physiology, particularly to determine the mechanistic connection of GPAT to LD formation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology