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Susan Straley, PhD



  • Emeritus Faculty
Other Affiliation(s)
  • Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics - Emeritus Faculty

Biography and Education



University of Rochester: B.A. 1967 "With Highest Distinction" in Biology

Cornell University: Ph.D. 1972, Plant Physiology (minors, Chemistry and Biochemistry)
Adviser: Roderick K. Clayton. Thesis subject: primary events in bacterial photosynthesis.


Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biology, Princeton University with Victor G. Bruce,1972 1973. Subject: circadian rhythms in algae.

Research Associate and Laboratory Supervisor, T.H. Morgan School of Biological Sciences, University of Kentucky with Samuel F. Conti, 1973 1979. Subject: bacterial predator prey interactions. Other responsibility: Biological Sciences electron microscopy laboratory.

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Microbiology and Public Health, Michigan State University with Robert R. Brubaker, 1979 1980. Subject: mechanisms of pathogenesis of Yersinia pestis (plague).

Marine Biological Laboratory, Physiology Course, Summer, 1969.

Marine Biological Laboratory, "Electron Microscopy in the Biological Sciences", 1977.

Marine Biological Laboratory, "High Resolution Electrophoretic Separation of Proteins", 1978.

Sabbatical leave in lab of Carol Nacy at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Rockville, MD, 1990 1991. Subject: Innate and adaptive defenses against facultative intracellular bacteria.


50% 10-month: 2012, phased retirement

Professor: 1992+, Department of Microbiology and Immunology (now Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics) University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington, Kentucky 40536 0084

Associate Professor: 1986 - 1992, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington, Kentucky 40536 0084

Assistant Professor: 1983 - 1986, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington, Kentucky 40536 0084

Assistant Professor: 1980 - 1983, Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), Birmingham, Alabama 35294


Sue Straley's lab studied the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis.  Plague is highly acute disease, killing animals before they mount an effective immune response.  One way the bacteria achieve this is by delivering a set of toxins called Yops into host cells. Contact between Y. pestis and a mammalian cell activates a delivery mechanism that injects virulence proteins called Yops into the cell. The proteins manipulate cellular signaling mechanisms and cause a profound immunosuppression.  In collaboration with Drs. Kaplan and Cohen, Dr. Straley's lab identified immunological and molecular targets in host cells for one of the Yops, YopM.   

A second project in Dr. Straley's lab grew out of the need to identify Yersinia pestis surface antigens against which antibodies can provide protection against plague.  These studies led to the discovery of trimeric surface proteins called YadB and YadC.  YadC is a candidate for inclusion in an improved plague vaccine, because mice that are vaccinated with YadC are protected against plague. 

These studies revealed key steps that are crucial to the development of devastating disease and thus will identify possible ways to prevent and treat plague as well as other important bacterial infections.

Selected Publications


 1.         Clayton, R.K. and S.C. Straley.  1970.  An optical absorption change that could be due to reduction of the primary photochemical electron acceptor in photosynthetic reaction centers.  Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun., 39:1114‑1119.

 2.         Clayton, R.K. and S.C. Straley.  1972.  Photochemical electron transport in photosynthetic reaction centers.  IV.  Observations related to the reduced photoproducts.  Biophys. J., 12:1221‑1234.

 3.         Straley, S.C. and R.K. Clayton.  1973.  Extraction of oxidized bacteriochlorophyll from illuminated photosynthetic reaction center particles.  Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 292:685‑691.

 4.         Straley, S.C., Parson, W.W., Mauzerall, D.C. and R.K. Clayton.  1973.  Pigment content and molar extinction coefficients of photochemical reaction centers from Rhodopseudomonas spheroides. Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 305:597‑609.

 5.         Straley, S.C. and S.F. Conti.  1974.  Chemotaxis in Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus.  J. Bacteriol., 120:549‑551.

 6.         LaMarre, A.G., Straley, S.C. and S.F. Conti.  1977.  Chemotaxis toward amino acids by Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus strain UKi2.  J. Bacteriol., 131:201‑207.

 7.         Straley, S.C. and S.F. Conti.  1977.  Chemotaxis of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus strain UKi2 toward prey.  J. Bacteriol., 132:628‑640.

 8.         Straley, S.C., A.G. LaMarre, L.J. Lawrence and S.F. Conti.  1979.  Chemotaxis by Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus toward pure compounds.  J. Bacteriol., 140:634‑642.

 9.         Straley, S.C. and V.G. Bruce.  1979.  Stickiness to glass:  circadian changes in the cell surface of Chlamydomonas reinhardi. Plant Physiol., 63:1175‑1181.

 10.       Crowley, P.H., S.C. Straley, R.J. Craig, J.D. Culin, Y.T. Fu, T.L. Hayden, T.A. Robinson and J.P. Straley.  1980.  A model of prey bacteria, predator bacteria, and bacteriophage in continuous culture.  J. Theoret. Biol., 86:377‑400.

 11.       Straley, S.C. and R.R. Brubaker.  1981.  Cytoplasmic and membrane proteins of yersiniae cultivated under conditions simulating mammalian intracellular environment.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 78:1224‑1228.

 12.       Straley, S.C. and R.R. Brubaker.  1982.  Localization in Yersinia pestis of peptides associated with virulence.  Infect. Immun., 36:129‑135.

 13.       Shaw, D.R., A.T. Maurelli, J.D. Goguen, S.C. Straley and R. Curtiss III.  1982.  Use of UV‑irradiated bacteriophage T6 to kill extracellular bacteria in tissue culture infectivity assays.  J. Immunol. Meth., 56:75‑83.

 14.       Straley, S.C., and P.A. Harmon.  1984.  Growth in mouse peritoneal macrophages of Yersinia pestis lacking established virulence determinants.  Infect. Immun., 45:649‑654.

 15.       Straley, S.C., and P.A. Harmon.  1984.  Yersinia pestis grows within a phagolysosome in mouse peritoneal macrophages.  Infect. Immun., 45:655‑659.

 16.       Goguen, J.D., J. Yother, and S.C. Straley:  1984.  Genetic analysis of the low‑calcium response in Yersinia pestis: Mud 1 (Ap lac) insertion mutants.  J. Bacteriol., 160: 842‑848.

 17.       Straley, S.C. and William S. Bowmer.  1986.  Virulence genes regulated at the transcriptional level by Ca2+ in Yersinia pestis include structural genes for outer membrane proteins.  Infect. Immun., 51: 445‑454.

 18.       Pollack, C., S.C. Straley, and M.S. Klempner.  1986.  Probing the phagolysosomal environment of human macrophages with a Ca++‑responsive operon fusion in Yersinia pestis.  Nature, 322:834‑836.

 19.       Perry, R.D., P.A. Harmon, W.S. Bowmer, and S.C. Straley.  1986. A

            low‑Ca2+ response operon encodes the V antigen of Yersinia pestis.  Infect. Immun., 54:428‑434.

 20.       Perry, R.D., P. Haddix, E. Atkins, T. Soughers, and S.C. Straley.  1987.  Regulation of expression of V antigen and outer membrane proteins in Yersinia pestis.  Contr. Microbiol. Immunol., 9:173‑178.

 21.       Straley, S.C., and M.L. Cibull.  1989.  Differential clearance and host‑pathogen interactions of YopE and YopK YopLYersinia pestis in BALB/c mice. Infect. Immun., 57:1200‑1210.

 22.       Price, S.B., and S.C. Straley.  1989.  lcrH,  A gene necessary for virulence of Yersinia pestis and for the normal response of Y. pestis to ATP and calcium.  Infect. Immun., 57:1491‑1498.

 23.       Price, S.B., K. Y. Leung, S. S. Barve, and S. C. Straley.  1989.  Molecular analysis of lcrGVH, the V antigen operon of Yersinia pestis.  J. Bacteriol.,  171:5646‑5653.

 24.       Leung, K. Y., and S. C. Straley.  1989.  The yopM gene of Yersinia pestis encodes a released protein having homology with the human platelet surface protein GPIb .  J. Bacteriol.,  171:4623‑4632.

 25.       Barve, S. S., and S. C. Straley.  1990.  lcrR, a low‑Ca2+ response gene with dual Ca2+‑ dependent functions in Yersinia pestis.  J. Bacteriol.,  172:4661‑4671.

 26.       Lindler, L.E., M.S. Klempner, and S. C. Straley.  1990.  Yersinia pestis pH 6 antigen: genetic, biochemical and virulence characterization of a protein involved in the pathogenesis of bubonic plague.  Infect. Immun., 58:2569‑2577.

 27.       Leung, K.Y., B.S. Reisner, and S.C. Straley.  1990.  YopM inhibits platelet aggregation and is necessary for virulence of Yersinia pestis.  Infect. Immun., 58: 3262‑3271.

 28.       Price, S.B., C. Cowan, R.D. Perry, and S.C. Straley.  1991.  The Yersinia pestis V antigen is a regulatory protein necessary for Ca2+‑dependent growth and maximal expression of low‑Ca2+ response virulence genes.  J. Bacteriol., 173: 2649‑2657.

 29.       Plano, G.V., S.S. Barve, and S.C. Straley.  1991.  LcrD: a membrane‑bound regulator of the Yersinia pestis low‑calcium response.  J. Bacteriol., 173: 7293‑7303.

 30.       Haddix, P.L., and S.C. Straley.  1992.  Structure and regulation of the Yersinia pestis yscBCDEF operon.  J. Bacteriol. 174: 4820‑4828.

 31.       Reisner, B.S. and S.C. Straley.  1992. Yersinia pestis YopM: thrombin binding and overexpression.  Infect. Immun. 160: 5242‑5252.

 32.       Skrzypek, E., P.L. Haddix, G.V. Plano, and S.C. Straley.  1993.  New suicide vector for gene replacement in yersiniae and other Gram‑negative bacteria.  Plasmid 29: 160‑163.

 33.       Plano, G.V., and S.C. Straley. 1993. Multiple effects of lcrD mutations in Yersinia pestis.  J. Bacteriol. 175:3536‑3545

 34.       Skrzypek, E., and S. C. Straley.  1993. LcrG is a secreted negative regulator of the Yersinia pestis low‑Ca2+ response.  J. Bacteriol. 175:3520‑3528.

 35.       Fields, K.A., G.V. Plano, and S.C. Straley. 1994. A low-Ca2+ response (LCR) secretion (ysc) locus lies within the lcrB region of the LCR plasmid in Yersinia pestis.  J. Bacteriol. 176: 569-579.

 36.       Bhatnager, N., E. Getachew, S. Straley, J. Williams, M. Meltzer, and A. Fortier.  1994. Reduced virulence of rifampicin-resistant mutants of Francisella tularensis.  J. Infect. Dis. 170: 841-847.

 37.       Skrzypek, E., and S. C. Straley. 1995. Differential effects of deletions in lcrV on secretion of V antigen, regulation of the low-Ca2+ response, and virulence of Yersinia pestis.  J. Bacteriol. 177: 2530-2542.

 38.       Plano, G.V., and S.C. Straley.  1995. Mutations in yscC, yscD and yscG prevent high level expression and secretion of V antigen and Yops in Yersinia pestis. J. Bacteriol. 177: 3843-3854.

 39.       Skrzypek, E., and S. C. Straley. 1996. Interaction between Yersinia pestis YopM protein and human a-thrombin.  Thrombosis Res. 84:33-43.

 40.       Nilles, M.L., A.W. Williams, E. Skrzypek, and S. C. Straley. 1997. Yersinia pestis LcrV forms a stable complex with LcrG and may have a secretion-related regulatory role in the low-Ca2+ response. J. Bacteriol. 179:1307-1316.

 41.       Nemeth, J., and S. C. Straley. 1997. Effect of Yersinia pestis YopM on experimental plague. Infect. Immun. 65:924-930.

 42.       Fields, K.A., A.W. Williams, and S.C. Straley. 1997. Failure to detect binding of LcrH to the V antigen of Yersinia pestis. Infect. Immun 65:3954-3957.

43.       Williams, Andrew W., and S. C. Straley. 1998. YopD of Yersinia pestis plays a role in negative regulation of the low-calcium respnse in addition to its role in translocation of Yops. J. Bacteriol. 180:350-358.

 44.       Nilles, M.L., Kenneth A. Fields, and Susan C. Straley. 1998. The V antigen of Yersinia pestis regulates Yop vectorial targeting as well as Yop secretion through effects on YopB and LcrG. J. Bacteriol. 180:3410-3420.

 45.       Payne, P.L., and S.C. Straley. 1998. YscO of Yersinia pestis is a mobile core component of the Yop secretion system. J. Bacteriol. 180:3882-3890.

 46.       Perry, R.D., S.C. Straley, J.D. Fetherston, D.J. Rose, J. Gregor, and F.R. Blattner. 1998. DNA sequencing and analysis of the low-Ca+ -response plasmid pCD1 of Yersinia pestis KIM5. Infect. Immun. 66:4611-4623.

 47.       Skrzypek, E., C. Cowan, and S. C. Straley. 1998. Targeting of the Yersinia pestis YopM protein into HeLa cells and intracellular trafficking to the nucleus.  Molec. Microbiol.30:1051-1065.

 48.       Payne, P.L., and S.C. Straley.  1999. YscP of Yersinia pestis is a secreted component of the Yop secretion system. J. Bacteriol. 181: 2852-2862.

 49.       Fields, K.A., and S. C. Straley. 1999. LcrV of Yersinia pestis enters infected eukaryotic cells by a virulence plasmid-independent mechanism.  Infect. Immun. 67:4801-4813.

 50.       Fields, K.A., M.L. Nilles, C. Cowan, and S.C. Straley.  1999. V antigen of Yersinia pestis: virulence role at the bacterial surface.  Infect. Immun. 67: 5395-5408.

 51.       Cowan, C., H. A. Jones, Y. H. Kaya, R. D. Perry, and S. C. Straley. 2000. Invasion of epithelial cells by Yersinia pestis: evidence for a Y. pestis-specific invasin. Infect. Immun. 68: 4523-4530.

 52.       Hines, J., E. Skrzypek, A. V. Kajava, and S. C. Straley.  2001. Structure-function analysis of Yersinia pestis YopM's interaction with a-thrombin to rule on its significance in systemic plague and to model YopM's mechanism of binding host proteins.  Microb. Pathogen. 30: 193-209.

 53.       Wulff-Strobel, C. R., A. W. Williams, and S. C. Straley.  2001. LcrQ and SycH function together at the Ysc type III secretion system in Yersinia pestis to impose a hierarchy of secretion.  Mol. Microbiol. 43: 411-423.

 Deng, W., V. Burland, G. Plunkett III, A. Boutin, G. F. Mayhew, P. Liss, N. T. Perna, D. J. Rose, R. Mau, S. Zhou, D. C. Schwartz, J. D. Fetherston, L. E. Lindler, R. R. Brubaker, G. V. Plano, S. C. Straley, K. A. McDonough, M. L. Nilles, J. S. Matson, F. R. Blattner, and R. D. Perry.  2002.  Genome sequence of Yersinia pestis KIM.  J. Bacteriol. 184: 4601-4611.

 55.       Skrzypek, E., T. Myers-Morales, S. W. Whiteheart, and S. C. Straley.  2003.  Application of a yeast model to study requirements for trafficking of Yersinia pestis YopM in eucaryotic cells.  Infect. Immun. 71: 937-947.

 56.       Burnett, S. H., E. J. Kerschen, J. Zhang, L. Zeng, S. C. Straley, A. M. Kaplan, and D. A. Cohen.  2004. Conditional macrophage ablation in transgenic mice expressing a Fas-based suicide gene.  J. Leuk. Biol. 75: 612-623.

 57.       Kerschen, E. J., D. A. Cohen, A. M. Kaplan, and S. C. Straley. 2004. The plague virulence protein YopM targets the innate immune response by causing a global depletion of NK cells.  Infect. Immun. 72: 4589-4602.

 58.       Philipovskiy, A. V., C. Cowan, C. R. Wulff-Strobel, S. H. Burnett, E. J. Kerschen, D. A. Cohen, A. M. Kaplan, D. A. Cohen, and S. C. Straley.  2004. Antibody against V antigen prevents Yop-dependent growth of Yersinia pestis.  Infect. Immun. 73: 1532-1542.

 59.       Leigh, S. A., S. Forman, R. D. Perry, and S. C. Straley.  2005. Unexpected results from the application of signature-tagged mutagenesis to identify Yersinia pestis genes required for adherence and invasion.  Microb. Pathgen.  38: 259-266.

 60.       Cowan, C., A. V. Philipovskiy, C. R. Wulff-Strobel, Z. Ye, and S. C. Straley.  2005.  Anti-LcrV antibody inhibits delivery of Yops by Yersinia pestis KIM5 by directly promoting phagocytosis.  Infect. Immun. 73: 6127-6137.

 61.       Congleton, Y. H. K., C. R. Wulff, E. J. Kerschen, and S. C. Straley.  2006.  Mice naturally resistant to Yersinia pestis Dpgm strains commonly used in pathogenicity studies.  Infect. Immun. 74: 6501-6504.

 62.       Myers-Morales, T., C. Cowan, M. E. Gray, C. R. Wulff, C. E. Parker, C. H. Borchers, and S. C. Straley.  2007.  A surface-focused biotinylation procedure identifies the Yersinia pestis catalase KatY as a membrane-associated but non-surface-located protein.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73: 5750-5759.

 63.       Forman, S., C. R. Wulff, T. Myers-Morales, C. Cowan, R. D. Perry, and S. C. Straley. 2007.  yadBC of Yersinia pestis, a new virulence determinant for bubonic plague.  Infect. Immun. 76(2): 578-587.

 64.       Fowler, J. F., C. R. Wulff, S. C. Straley, and R. R. Brubaker.  2009.  Growth of calcium-blind mutants of Yersinia pestis at 37oC in permissive Ca2+-deficient environments.  Microbiology. 155(Pt 8): 2509-21.

 65.       Ye, Z., E. J. Kerschen, D. A. Cohen, A. M. Kaplan, N. van Rooijen, and S. C. Straley.  2009.  Gr1+ Cells control growth of YopM-negative Yersinia pestis during systemic plague.  Infect. Immun. 77: 3791-3806.

 66.       Ye, Z., A. M. Uittenbogaard, D. A. Cohen, A. M. Kaplan, J. Ambati, and S. C. Straley.  2011.  Distinct CCR2+ cells control growth of yopM Yersinia pestis in liver and spleen during systemic plague.  Infect. Immun. epublication on 12-14-10, print, 79: 674-687.

 67        Uittenbogaard, A. M., R. L. Chelvarajan, T. Myers-Morales, A. A. Gorman, W. J. Brickey, Z. Ye, A. M. Kaplan, D. A. Cohen,  J. P-Y. Ting, and S. C. Straley.  2012.  Toward a molecular pathogenic pathway for Yersinia pestis YopM.  Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. Doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2012.00155.

 68        Uittenbogaard, A. M., Myers-Morales, T., Gorman, A. A., Welsh, E., Wulff, C., Hinnebusch, B. J., Korhonen, T. K., and S. C. Straley.  2013.  Temperature-dependence of yadBC phenotypes in Yersinia pestis.  Microbiology 160: 396-405.