• I have been an assistant professor in Microbiology at UAB since January of 2016. My interests are focused on the molecular mechanisms by which bacteria sense and respond to changes in their environments. My lab is currently exploring how bacteria regulate inorganic polyphosphate synthesis in response to starvation and how pro-inflammatory enterobacteria use the RclA, RclB, and RclC proteins to resist antimicrobial oxidants used by the innate immune system to kill bacteria during inflammation.

    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.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2022 Escherichia coli RclA is a highly active hypothiocyanite reductase 2022
    2022 Tagging Polyphosphate Kinase Alters Enzymatic Activity and Affect Stress Recovery in E. coli 2022
    2022 The role of nitrogen-responsive regulators in controlling inorganic polyphosphate synthesis in Escherichia coliMicrobiology.  168. 2022
    2021 Inorganic polyphosphate in host and microbe biologyTrends in Microbiology.  29:1013-1023. 2021
    2021 The nitrogen phosphotransferase regulator PtsN (EIIANtr) regulates inorganic polyphosphate production in Escherichia coli 2021
    2021 Induction of the reactive chlorine-responsive transcription factor RclR in Escherichia coli following ingestion by neutrophilsFEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology.  79. 2021
    2021 Induction of the reactive chlorine-responsive transcription factor RclR in Escherichia coli following ingestion by neutrophils.Pathogens and Disease.  79. 2021
    2020 The Cu(II) reductase rcla protects escherichia coli against the combination of hypochlorous acid and intracellular coppermBio.  11:1-17. 2020
    2020 Interactions between DksA and stress-responsive alternative sigma factors control inorganic polyphosphate accumulation in Escherichia coliJournal of Bacteriology.  202. 2020
    2020 Phosphate transporter PstSCAB of campylobacter jejuni is a critical determinant of lactate-dependent growth and colonization in chickensJournal of Bacteriology.  202. 2020
    2020 Complex interactions between DksA and stress-responsive alternative sigma factors control inorganic polyphosphate accumulation in Escherichia coli 2020
    2019 Preventing dysbiosis of the neonatal mouse intestinal microbiome protects against late-onset sepsisNature Medicine.  25:1772-1782. 2019
    2019 The Cu(II) reductase RclA protects Escherichia coli against the combination of hypochlorous acid and intracellular copper 2019
    2019 Inorganic polyphosphate accumulation in Escherichia coli is regulated by DksA but not by (p)ppGppJournal of Bacteriology.  201. 2019
    2019 Complex responses to inflammatory oxidants by the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri 2019
    2019 Assaying for inorganic polyphosphate in bacteriaJournal of Visualized Experiments.  2019. 2019
    2019 Complex responses to hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorous acid by the probiotic bacterium lactobacillus reuterimSystems.  4. 2019
    2018 Polyphosphate Stabilizes Protein Unfolding Intermediates as Soluble Amyloid-like OligomersJournal of Molecular Biology.  430:4195-4208. 2018
    2018 Mutations in Escherichia coli polyphosphate kinase that lead to dramatically increased in vivo polyphosphate levelsJournal of Bacteriology.  200. 2018
    2017 The anti-inflammatory drug mesalamine targets bacterial polyphosphate accumulationNature Microbiology.  2. 2017
    2016 Do nucleic acids moonlight as molecular chaperones?Nucleic Acids Research.  44:4835-4845. 2016
    2016 Crystal structure of E.coli NemR reduced form 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 conditionsJournal of Molecular Biology.  427:1549-1563. 2015
    2015 Oxidative stress protection by polyphosphate-new roles for an old playerCurrent Opinion in Microbiology.  24:1-6. 2015
    2014 Syngas conversion to gasoline-range hydrocarbons over Pd/ZnO/Al 2O3 and ZSM-5 composite catalyst systemFuel Processing Technology.  123:65-74. 2014
    2014 Polyphosphate Is a Primordial ChaperoneMolecular Cell.  53:689-699. 2014
    2014 About the dangers, costs and benefits of living an aerobic lifestyleBiochemical Society Transactions.  42:917-921. 2014
    2013 The RclR protein is a reactive chlorine-specific transcription factor in escherichia coliJournal of Biological Chemistry.  288:32574-32584. 2013
    2013 Bacterial responses to reactive chlorine speciesAnnual Review of Microbiology.  67:141-160. 2013
    2013 NemR is a bleach-sensing transcription factorJournal 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 SpeciesPLoS One.  8. 2013
    2010 A new pathway for the synthesis of α-ribazole-phosphate in Listeria innocuaMolecular Microbiology.  77:1429-1438. 2010
    2009 The cobinamide amidohydrolase (cobyric acid-forming) CbiZ enzyme: A critical activity of the cobamide remodelling system of Rhodobacter sphaeroidesMolecular Microbiology.  74:1198-1210. 2009
    2009 Role of class 3 semaphorins and their receptors in tumor growth and angiogenesisClinical Cancer Research.  15:6763-6770. 2009
    2009 Targeting the urokinase plasminogen activator receptor with a monoclonal antibody impairs the growth of human colorectal cancer in the liverCancer.  115:3360-3368. 2009
    2009 In vivo analysis of cobinamide salvaging in Rhodobacter sphaeroides strain 2.4.1Journal 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 originsMolecular Microbiology.  70:824-836. 2008
    2008 Autophosphorylation and dephosphorylation by soluble forms of the nitrate-responsive sensors NarX and NarQ from Escherichia coli K-12Journal of Bacteriology.  190:3869-3876. 2008
    2007 Functional significance of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors on gastrointestinal cancer cellsCancer and Metastasis Reviews.  26:433-441. 2007
    2007 The development and characterization of a human midgut carcinoid cell lineClinical Cancer Research.  13:4704-4712. 2007
    2007 Tyrosine kinase receptor RON in human pancreatic cancer: Expression, function, and validation as a targetCancer.  109:1030-1039. 2007
    2007 Single-enzyme conversion of FMNH2 to 5,6-dimethylbenzimidazole, the lower ligand of B12 2007
    2006 The role of nitric oxide in mediating tumour blood flowExpert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets.  10:689-701. 2006
    2006 Src activation of Stat3 is an independent requirement from NF-κB activation for constitutive IL-8 expression in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cellsAngiogenesis.  9:101-110. 2006
    2006 How the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes mediates the switch from environmental Dr. Jekyll to pathogenic Mr. HydeInfection and Immunity.  74:2506-2512. 2006
    2006 Attributing risk to Listeria monocytogenes subgroups: Dose response in relation to genetic lineagesJournal of Food Protection.  69:335-344. 2006
    2004 Listeria monocytogenes isolates from foods and humans form distinct but overlapping populationsApplied and Environmental Microbiology.  70:5833-5841. 2004
    2004 Comparative Genomic Analysis of the sigB Operon in Listeria monocytogenes and in Other Gram-Positive Bacteria 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 patternsJournal of Food Protection.  63:516-521. 2000


    Year Title Altmetric
    2005 Genetics and Physiology of Pathogenicity in Food Borne Bacterial Pathogens 2005

    Research Overview

  • My research interests center 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. We have 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, as well as other stressful environmental conditions (such as nutrient limitation).
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology/Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin System : Madison 2010
  • Full Name

  • Michael Gray