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.

  • 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. “Transferred interbacterial antagonism genes augment eukaryotic innate immune function”. Nature. Accepted.
  • 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 burgdorferi. Infect. 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 burgdorferiInfect. 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 burgdorferiPLOS Pathogens  6(9): e1001104. PMCID: PMC2940757
  • 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. PMCID: PMC2897396
  • 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. PMCID: PMC2798228

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