Faculty Research Labs

Yang Lab

The research lab of X. Frank Yang, PhD studies bacterial pathogenesis—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.

The Yang Lab focuses on two groups of pathogens, the spirochetal pathogens (the causative agents of Lyme disease, Syphilis and Leptospirosis) and the vector-borne pathogens. How B. burgdorferi is maintained in the tick vector is also not clear.

Active Research

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). The laboratory has identified two key regulatory networks (Hk2-Rrp2, Hk1-Rrp1) and two di-nucleotide secondary messengers (c-di-GMP, c-di-AMP), that are essential for the pathogen to infect mice and to survive in the tick vector.

The lab has identified several new virulence factors and is currently focusing on elucidation the underlying molecular mechanisms of these factors in infection and causing arthritis and neuroborreliosis. Efforts are underway to develop a new method for Lyme disease diagnosis and a new vaccine approach for Lyme disease prevention.

The Yang Lab also works on identification of factors as potential candidates for diagnosis and vaccine development against Syphilis (one of the important sexual transmitted infection caused by Treponema pallidum infection) and Leptospirosis (a re-emerging zoonotic disease caused by Leptospira interrogans).

Research Funding

Host adaptation of the Lyme disease spirochete

Genetic analysis of a novel model of Borrelia-associated neuropathology

Growth and shape mechanisms in the Lyme disease pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi

Cyclic di-GMP-dependent regulation of metabolism and virulence in Borrelia burgdorferi

Role: PI

Elucidating the function of a novel antibacterial amidase in Ixodes scapularis

Recent Publications

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, 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

Faculty Research Team

X. Frank Yang, PhD

X. Frank Yang, PhD

Professor of Microbiology & Immunology

Additional Research Team Members

Other research team members in the Yang Lab include Youyun Yang, MD PhD (Research Associate), Tong Chen (PhD Student), Amberly Grothe (PhD Student), Bibi Zhou (PhD student) and Azeez Aremu (IPREP student).