• I have been an assistant professor in Microbiology at UAB since January of 2016. Prior to starting my own lab, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Ursula Jakob at the University of Michigan, where I began my studies of bacterial responses to reactive chlorine stress and the role of the ancient biomolecule inorganic polyphosphate in stress response. I received my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, in the lab of Dr. Jorge Escalante, studying the synthesis and salvage of the lower ligand of vitamin B12 in bacteria, and my Master's degree at the University of California - Davis, in the lab of Dr. Valley Stewart. Between those degrees, I worked as a technician in Dr. Kathryn Boor's lab at Cornell University, which was also my undergraduate alma mater. Throughout my career, I have had an interest in bacterial genetics and physiology, and on the molecular details of how bacteria sense and respond to changes in their environments.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2019 Inorganic polyphosphate accumulation in Escherichia coli is regulated by DksA but not by (p)ppGpp.Journal of Bac2019
    2019 Assaying for Inorganic Polyphosphate in Bacteria.Journal of Visualized Experiments2019
    2018 Polyphosphate Stabilizes Protein Unfolding Intermediates as Soluble Amyloid-like Oligomers.Journal of Molecular Biology.  430:4195-4208. 2018
    2018 Mutations in Escherichia coli Polyphosphate Kinase That Lead to Dramatically Increased In Vivo Polyphosphate Levels.Journal of Bacteriology.  200. 2018
    2017 The anti-inflammatory drug mesalamine targets bacterial polyphosphate accumulation.Nature Microbiology.  2:16267. 2017
    2016 Do nucleic acids moonlight as molecular chaperones?Nucleic Acids Research.  44:4835-4845. 2016
    2015 Does the Transcription Factor NemR Use a Regulatory Sulfenamide Bond to Sense Bleach?Antioxidants and Redox Signaling.  23:747-754. 2015
    2015 Protein quality control under oxidative stress conditions.Journal of Molecular Biology.  427:1549-1563. 2015
    2015 Oxidative stress protection by polyphosphate--new roles for an old player.Current Opinion in Microbiology.  24:1-6. 2015
    2014 About the dangers, costs and benefits of living an aerobic lifestyle.Biochemical Society Transactions.  42:917-921. 2014
    2014 Polyphosphate is a primordial chaperone.Molecular Cell.  53:689-699. 2014
    2013 The RclR protein is a reactive chlorine-specific transcription factor in Escherichia coli.Journal of Biological Chemistry.  288:32574-32584. 2013
    2013 NemR is a bleach-sensing transcription factor.Journal of Biological Chemistry.  288:13789-13798. 2013
    2013 Bacillus megaterium has both a functional BluB protein required for DMB synthesis and a related flavoprotein that forms a stable radical species.PLoS ONE.  8:e55708. 2013
    2013 Bacterial responses to reactive chlorine species.Annual Review of Microbiology.  67:141-160. 2013
    2010 A new pathway for the synthesis of α-ribazole-phosphate in Listeria innocua.Microbiological sciences.  77:1429-1438. 2010
    2009 The cobinamide amidohydrolase (cobyric acid-forming) CbiZ enzyme: a critical activity of the cobamide remodelling system of Rhodobacter sphaeroides.Microbiological sciences.  74:1198-1210. 2009
    2009 In vivo analysis of cobinamide salvaging in Rhodobacter sphaeroides strain 2.4.1.Journal of Bacteriology.  191:3842-3851. 2009
    2008 The genome of Rhodobacter sphaeroides strain 2.4.1 encodes functional cobinamide salvaging systems of archaeal and bacterial origins.Microbiological sciences.  70:824-836. 2008
    2008 Autophosphorylation and dephosphorylation by soluble forms of the nitrate-responsive sensors NarX and NarQ from Escherichia coli K-12.Journal of Bacteriology.  190:3869-3876. 2008
    2007 Single-enzyme conversion of FMNH2 to 5,6-dimethylbenzimidazole, the lower ligand of B12.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  104:2921-2926. 2007
    2006 How the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes mediates the switch from environmental Dr. Jekyll to pathogenic Mr. Hyde.Infection and Immunity.  74:2505-2512. 2006
    2006 Attributing risk to Listeria monocytogenes subgroups: dose response in relation to genetic lineages.Journal of Food Protection.  69:335-344. 2006
    2004 Listeria monocytogenes isolates from foods and humans form distinct but overlapping populations.Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  70:5833-5841. 2004
    2004 Comparative genomic analysis of the sigB operon in Listeria monocytogenes and in other Gram-positive bacteria.Current Microbiology.  48:39-46. 2004
    2004 Detection of viable Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis using luciferase reporter systems.Foodborne Pathogens and Disease.  1:258-266. 2004
    2000 Characterization of chocolate milk spoilage patterns.Journal of Food Protection.  63:516-521. 2000

    Research Overview

  • My research fosues on the molecular biology of how bacteria sense and respond to reactive chlorine species, which are antimicrobial oxidants produced by neutrophils during inflammation. I am particularly interested in understanding how gut microbes, both symbiotic and pathogenic, respond to inflammatory oxidants, and what role those responses play in colonization and disease. My lab has recently become very interested in the regulation of inorganic polyphosphate production, which is a key factor in the ability of bacteria to survive exposure to inflammatory oxidants.
  • Teaching Overview

  • I am currently course director for GBS 760 - Prokaryotic Genetics and Molecular Biology, and make substantial contributions to GBS768 - Scientific Communication and GBS748 - Advanced Bacterial Pathogenesis, as well as being co-course director for the Bacterial Pathogenesis and Physiology Journal Club.
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology/Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin System : Madison
  • Full Name

  • Michael Gray