Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Biology (Cell Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology)

Major Professor

Stanley M. Stevens, Jr., Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Brant R. Burkhardt, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Meera Nanjundan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Merkler, Ph.D.


alcoholic liver disease, label free quantification, phosphohistidine, proteomics


Chronic liver diseases, which includes alcoholic liver disease (ALD), are consistently among the top 15 leading causes of death in the United States. ALD is characterized by progression from a normal liver to fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis), which can lead to cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and liver failure. We have identified a novel role of phosphohistidine signaling, mediated through phosphohistidine phosphatase 1 (PHPT1), in the onset of hepatic steatosis. We have identified PHPT1 as a target of selective oxidation following acute ethanol exposure as well as being downregulated following chronic ethanol exposure. We mapped the oxidative modification site and developed a mass-spectrometry based phosphohistidine phosphatase assay to determine the impact of PHPT1 oxidative modification during acute ethanol exposure. To further understand the role of PHPT1 and phosphohistidine signaling during chronic ethanol exposure, we have developed PHPT1 overexpression and knockout mouse models. These mouse models were characterized using mass spectrometry-based proteomics. They were then utilized in a 10-day chronic ethanol plus binge model to determine the impact of PHPT1 expression on the onset of ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis. In addition, advanced mass spectrometry-based phenotypic characterization was performed on the treated liver tissues to determine the key regulators and canonical pathways influencing phosphohistidine signaling during chronic ethanol exposure. We have evidence to suggest that PHPT1 overexpression plays a protective role in the onset of hepatic steatosis, the PHPT1 heterozygous model is more susceptible to liver damage, and the complete knockout model is embryonically lethal. Additionally, we have identified novel pathways and regulators involved in phosphohistidine signaling during the development of ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis.