X. Frank Yang, PhD
Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Dr. Yang's laboratory focuses on the gene regulation and pathogenesis of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease.
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.