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Frank Yang, Ph.D.

Professor of Microbiology & Immunology

Summary of the focus of the research of Dr. Yang

Dr. Yang's laboratory studies bacterial pathogenesis, i.e., how bacterial pathogens colonize the host, evade host immune response, and cause diseases. The ultimate goals are to develop new diagnostic tools and vaccine to detect and prevent bacterial infections. 

Description and summary of research focus of the laboratory

The team focuses on two groups of pathogens, the spirochetal pathogens (the causative agents of Lyme disease, Syphilis, and Leptospirosis) and the vector-borne pathogens. Lyme disease is the number one vector-borne disease in the US, but little is known on how the pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi, causes disease (Lyme arthritis, Lyme carditis, neuroborreliosis). How B. burgdorferi is maintained in the tick vector is also not unclear. The team has identified two key regulatory networks (Hk2-Rrp2, Hk1-Rrp1) and two di-nucleotide secondary messengers (c-di-GMP, c-d-AMP), that are essential for the pathogen to infect mice and to survive in the tick vector. Syphilis is one of the important sexual transmitted infection caused by Treponema pallidum. Leptospirosis is a re-emerging zoonotic disease caused by Leptospira interrogans. The team focuses on identification of factors as potential candidates for diagnosis and vaccine development against Syphilis and Leptospirosis.  

  • Radolf JD, Deka RK, Anand A, Šmajs D, Norgard MV, Yang XF. 2016. Treponema pallidum, the syphilis spirochete: making a living as a stealth pathogen. Nature Review Microbiology. 14(12):744-759.
  • Carrasco SE, Troxell B, Yang Y, Brandt SL, Li H, Sandusky GE, Condon KW, Serezani CH, Yang XF. 2015. Outer surface protein OspC is an antiphagocytic factor that protects Borrelia burgdorferi from phagocytosis by macrophages. Infection and Immunity. 83(12):4848-60.
  • Carrasco SE, Troxell, B, Yang Y, Yang X, Pal U, Yang XF.  2015. Borrelia burgdorferi elongation factor EF-Tu is an immunogenic antigen during Lyme borreliosis. Emerging Infection and Microbe. 4, e54; doi:10.1038
  • Chou S, Daugherty M, Peterson S,  Biboy J, Yang Y, Jutras B, Fritz-Laylin L, Ferrin M, Harding B, Jacobs-Wagner C, Yang XF, Malik H, Vollmer W, Mougous J. 2015. Transferred interbacterial antagonism genes augment eukaryotic innate immune function. Nature. 518(7537):98-101
  • Ye M, Zhang J-J, Fang X, Lawlis GB, Troxell B, Zhou Y, Lou Y, Gomelsky M, Yang XF. 2014. DhhP, a c-di-AMP phosphodiesterase of Borrelia burgdorferi, is essential for cell growth and virulence. Infect. Immun. 82(5):1840-9. PMC3993442
  • He M, Zhang J, Ye M, Lou Y, Yang XF. 2014. The Cyclic dimeric-GMP Receptor PlzA controls virulence gene expression through RpoS in Borrelia burgdorferiInfect. Immun. 82(1):445-52. PMC3911845
  • Troxell B, Zhang J, Bourret TJ, Zeng, MY, Blum J, Gherardini F, Hassan HM, Yang XF. 2014. Pyruvate protects pathogenic spirochetes from H2O2 killing. PLoS One. 9(1): e84625. PMCID: PMC3879313
  • Troxell, B, Ye, M, Yang Y, Carrasco SE, Lou Y, Yang, XF. 2013. Manganese and Zinc regulate virulence determinants in Borrelia burgdorferi.  Infect. Immun. 81(8):2743-52. PMCID: PMC3719580
  • Troxell B, Xu H, Yang XF. 2012. Borrelia burgdorferi, a pathogen that lacks iron, encodes manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase essential for resistance to streptonigrin. J Biol Chem. 287(23):19284-93. PMCID: PMC3365960
  • He M, Ouyang Z, Troxell B, Xu H, Moh A, Piesman J, Norgard MV, Gomelsky M, Yang XF. 2011. Cyclic di-GMP Is Essential for the Survival of the Lyme Disease Spirochete in Ticks. PLOS Pathogens 7(6): e1002133. PMCID: PMC3128128
  • Xu H, Caimano M, Lin T, He M, Radolf J, Norris S, Gheradini F, Wolfe A, Yang XF.  2010. Role of acetyl-phosphate in activation of the Rrp2-RpoN-RpoS pathway in Borrelia burgdorferi.  PLOS Pathogens 6(9): e1001104. PMCID: PMC2940757

Yang Lab Web Page

  • Ph.D., 1997: The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX
  • Post Doctoral, 1997-2001: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX

Department of Microbiology and Immunology | IU School of Medicine | 635 Barnhill Drive, MS 420 | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | (317) 274-0506