Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant Pathology

First Advisor

Dr. Peter D. Nagy


Positive-stranded (+)RNA viruses replicate inside cells and depend on many cellular factors to complete their infection cycle. In the meanwhile, (+)RNA viruses face the host innate immunity, such as cell-intrinsic restriction factors that could block virus replication.

Firstly, I have established that the plant DDX17-like RH30 DEAD-box helicase conducts strong inhibitory function on tombusvirus replication when expressed in plants and yeast surrogate host. This study demonstrates that RH30 blocks the assembly of viral replicase complex, the activation of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase function of p92pol and viral RNA template recruitment.

In addition, the features rendering the abundant plant DEAD-box helicases either antiviral or pro-viral functions in tombusvirus replication are intriguing. I found the reversion of the antiviral function of DDX17-like RH30 DEAD-box helicase and the coopted pro-viral DDX3-like RH20 helicase due to deletion of unique N-terminal domains. The discovery of the sequence plasticity of DEAD-box helicases that can alter recognition of different cis-acting elements in the viral genome illustrates the evolutionary potential of RNA helicases in the arms race between viruses and their hosts.

Moreover, I discovered that Xpo1 possesses an anti-viral function and exports previously characterized cell-intrinsic restriction factors (CIRFs) from the nucleus to the replication compartment of tombusviruses. Altogether, in my PhD studies, I found plant RH30 DEAD-box helicase is a potent host restriction factor inhibiting multiple steps of the tombusvirus replication. In addition, I provided the evidence supporting that the Nterminal domain determines the functions of antiviral DDX17-like RH30 DEAD-box helicase and pro-viral DDX3-like RH20 DEAD-box helicase in tombusvirus replication. Moreover, I discovered the emerging significance of the Xpo1-dependent nuclear export pathway in tombusvirus replication.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

NIH-NIAID-R21AI122078, NSF:1517751