Indiana University
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Frank Yang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology

Summary of the focus of the research of Dr. Yang

Dr. Yang's laboratory focuses on the gene regulation and pathogenesis of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease.

Description and summary of research focus of the laboratory

Research in my laboratory investigates the pathogenesis of Bacterial infection. In particular, we are interested in two groups of pathogens, the spirochetal pathogens (the causative agents of Lyme disease, Syphilis, and Leptospirosis) and the vector-borne pathogens. We employ the Lyme disease agent, Borrelia burgdorferi, as a model system to study the host-pathogen interactions. Lyme disease is the number one vector-borne disease in the US., but little is known on how B. burgdorferi causes disease (Lyme arthritis, Lyme carditis, neuroborreliosis). B. burgdorferi infects humans as accidental host via tick bites. We have recently identified two key regulatory networks that modulate expression of many Borrelia genes; one network appears to be essential for bacteria to infect mice, whereas the other is important for spirochetes to survive in the tick vector. We are currently focusing on elucidating the mechanisms of how B. burgdorferi senses the signals from each host and turns on each regulatory network and what the downstream effectors the networks control which allow B. burgdorferi to infect the mammalian host and to survive in the tick vector.

  • 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 Pathog 7(6): e1002133. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002133
  • 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. doi:10. 1371/journal.ppat. 1001104
  • Xue F, Dong H, Wu J, Wu Z, Zhao J, Hu W,Bu L, Sun A, Li L, Troxell B, Yang XF, Yan J. 2010. Transcriptional Responses of Leptospira interrogans to Host Innate Immunity: Significant Changes in Metabolism, Oxygen Tolerance, and Outer Membrane.   PLoS Negl Trop Dis 4(10): e857. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000857
  • Xu H, He, M, He, JJ, Yang XF. 2010. The role of the surface lipoprotein BBA07 in the enzootic cycle of Borrelia burgdorferi. Infect. Immun. 78:2910-18.
  • Xu H, He M, Pang X, Xu ZC, Piesman J, Yang XF. 2010. Characterization of the highly regulated antigen BBA05 in the enzootic cycle of Borrelia burgdorferi.  Infect. Immun.  78(1):100-7.
  • Blevins JS, Xu H, He M, Norgard MV, Reitzer L, Yang XF. 2009. Rrp2, a s54-dependent transcriptional activator of Borrelia burgdorferi, activates rpoS in an enhancer-independent manner. J Bacteriol. 191(8):2902-5.
  • Ouyang Z, He M, Oman T, Yang XF, Norgard MV. 2009. A manganese transporter, BB0219 (BmtA), is required for virulence by the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 106(9):3449-54
  • He M, Oman T, Xu H, Blevins, JS, Norgard MV, Yang XF. 2008. Abrogation of ospAB constitutively activates the Rrp2-RpoN-RpoS pathway (SigmaN-SigmaS cascade) in Borrelia burgdorferi. Mol. Microbiol. 70(6):1453-64
  • Boardman BK, He M, Ouyang Z, Xu H, Pang X, Yang XF. 2008. Essential role of the response regulator Rrp2 in the infectious cycle of Borrelia burgdorferi. Infect. Immun. 76(9): 3844–3853
  • He M, Boardman BK, Yan D, Yang XF. 2007. Regulation of expression of the fibronectin-binding protein BBK32 in Borrelia burgdorferi. J Bacteriol. 189(22):8377-80

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