Research overview

The bacterial type IV pilus (T4P) is a virulence factor in Neisseria gonorrheae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii and Clostridioides difficile which are all identified by WHO and CDC as priority pathogens because of their prevalent and rising antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The ability of bacteria to form biofilms in and out of a human host is intimately intertwined with AMR and its environmental persistence and transmission. The major focus of the Yang lab is on the bacterial T4P with two main lines of investigation. One is to explore T4P as an antivirulence target against antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens. The other is to understand the role of T4P in regulating and mediating bacterial biofilm formation. Our research work involves Gram-negative bacteria and their phages as experimental materials. We have expertise in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics and discovery of anti-T4P compounds as drug leads. We collaborate with scientists at Virginia Tech and elsewhere who have complementary expertise in medicinal chemistry as well as structural and computational biology.