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Kathleen A. McDonough, Ph.D.

  • Kathleen A. McDonough

    Kathleen A. McDonough, Ph.D.

    • Deputy Director of the Division of Infectious Disease
    • Bacterial Pathogenesis
    • Professor, School of Public Health, Biomedical Sciences
    • Faculty Member, Wadsworth School of Laboratory Sciences

    • Ph.D., Stanford University
    • Postdoctoral training: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

  • Plague bacilli exhibit a growth defect at host temperatures when the global regulatory gene hfq is deleted (middle panel).
    Plague bacilli exhibit a growth defect at host temperatures when the global regulatory gene hfq is deleted (middle panel), most likely due to dysregulation of one or more small regulatory RNA molecules. Addition of a good hfq gene copy restores normal growth (bottom). The top panel includes wild type Y. pestis for reference.

Research Interests

The focus of Dr. McDonough's laboratory is gene regulation in the context of bacterial pathogenesis, or the means by which bacteria cause disease. The team is primarily interested in two well known pathogens: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, and Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of bubonic and pneumonic plague. The lab uses a variety of techniques in their studies with both pathogens, ranging from molecular genetics and biochemistry to bioinformatics, proteomics and fluorescence microscopy.

The long term objective of the laboratory’s Mtb work is to gain a better understanding, at the molecular and cellular levels, of how this highly pathogenic bacterium establishes infection so that effective strategies can be developed to prevent tuberculosis infection and/or disease. A major current emphasis in the laboratory is on Mtb gene expression in host-associated conditions, and this work encompasses two major projects. The first project focuses on cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling as a global gene regulatory mechanism, while the second involves the characterization of a family of macrophage-induced genes that are thought to play a role in the establishment of TB dormancy. A long term goal of the Yersinia program is to understand the specific roles of gene regulation in plague transmission and pathogenesis as Y. pestis cycles between its flea vectors and mammalian hosts. A second objective of the Yersinia work is to understand, at the cellular and molecular levels, what differentiates Y. pestis, the etiologic agent of plague, from the closely related enteric pathogen Y. pseudotuberculosis.

Select Publications

Knapp GS, Lyubeskaya A, Peterson MW, Gomes AL, Ma Z, Galagan JE, McDonough KA.
Role of intragenic binding of cAMP responsive protein (CRP) in regulation of the succinate dehydrogenase gene Rv0249c in TB complex mycobacteria.
Nucleic Acids Research.
Cobbert JD, DeMott C, Majumder S, Smith EA, Reverdatto S, Burz DS, McDonough KA, Shekhtman A.
Caught in Action: Selecting Peptide Aptamers Against Intrinsically Disordered Proteins in Live Cells.
Scientific Reports.
Knapp GS, McDonough KA.
Cyclic AMP signaling in mycobacteria.
Microbiol Spectrum.
Beauregard A, Smith, EA, Petrone B, Singh N, Karch C, McDonough KA, Wade JT.
Identification and characterization of small RNAs in Yersinia pestis.
RNA Biology.
McCue LA, McDonough KA, Lawrence CE.
Functional classification of cNMP-binding proteins and nucleotide cyclases with implications for novel regulatory pathways in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Genome Res.