Medical Microbiology and Immunology

Laura A. Mike, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor
Molecular mechanisms of Klebsiella pneumoniae pathogenesis
Lab: 223 HEB
Lab Phone: (419) 383-6381
Office: 204A HEB
Office Phone: (419) 383-6580
Fax:  (419) 383-3002
Twitter: @lauraamike


Open Positions:

Graduate students: The Mike lab is actively recruiting excited and motivated graduate students. Current University of Toledo students interested in joining our team should email Dr. Mike to discuss rotation projects. Prospective graduate students interested in the Mike lab should consider applying to the Biomedical Science Graduate Program.

Postdoctoral fellows: The Mike lab is currently seeking creative and enthusiastic scholars looking to develop an expertise in the molecular genetics of gram-negative infections. If interested, please email Dr. Mike with a cover letter, CV, and the contact information for 3 references.

Research Interests:

Although Klebsiella pneumoniae is among the most clinically challenging bacterial pathogens of the modern era there is a dearth in knowledge regarding how this gram-negative bacterium senses and responds to the host enviroment to elaborate virulence programs causing specific pathologies. Our long-term goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms gram-negative pathogens use to sense, adapt, and respond to the host environment, thereby identifying critical bacterial factors that can be targeted to pioneer therapeutic strategies to treat infection. Our current focus is to identify the input signals, transducers, and bacterial responses that direct K. pneumoniae virulence-associated phenotypes, specifically hypermucoviscosity. Hypervirulent strains often exhibit a hypermucoviscous phenotype evident when bacterial colonies are pulled off a surface form a long, adherent string (see photo). Little is known about what signals and regulatory pathways control hypermucoviscosity and how that affects disease outcomes. Our lab seeks to determine how nutrient signals, such as discrete carbon sources and metals, impact K. pneumoniae biology to regulate hypermucoviscosity. Ultimately, we are interested in understanding how nutrient availability in different host niches regulate hypermucoviscosity and impact pathogenesis.

                                               hypermucoviscosity                                                      K. pneumoniae
                               hypermucoviscous phenotype of K. pneumoniae                                        TEM of K. pneumoniae
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               (credit: Andrew Kleinhenz in the Integrated Core Facilities)

Education and Training:
Duke University, Chemistry

B.S. (2008)

Vanderbilt University, Microbiology & Immunology (advisor: Eric Skaar)

Ph.D. (2013)

Postdoc (2014)

University of Michigan, Microbiology & Immunology (advisor: Harry Mobley)

Postdoc (2019) (co-advisor: David Sherman)

Research Investigator (2021)

Mike Lab
Mike Lab Summer 2022 (L->R):
Brooke Ring, Keila Acevedo Villanueva, Saroj Khadka, Rawnag El Sheikh Idris, Lindsey Krzeminski, Laura Mike

Current Funding:
NIH/NIAID, K22 AI145849: Functional Genetic Analysis of Klebsiella pneumoniae Hypervirulence (PI: L.A. Mike, July 2021-June 2023)

Selected Publications:
Search Pubmed

  1. Khadka S, Ring B, Krzeminski L, Hathaway M, Walker RS, Mobley HLT and Mike LA. "Regulation of Klebsiella pneumoniae mucoidy by the bacterial tyrosine kinase Wzc." bioRxiv 2022.06.05.494587; doi: 

  2. Mike LA, Stark AJ, Forsyth VS, Smith SN, Vornhagen J, Bachman MA, and Mobley HLT. “A systematic analysis of hypermucoviscosity and capsule reveals distinct and overlapping genes that impact Klebsiella pneumoniae fitness.” PLoS Pathogens (2021): 17(3): e1009376. PMID: 33720976

  3. Forsyth VS, Himpsl SD, Smith SN, Sarkissian CA, Mike LA, Stocki JA, Sintsova A, Alteri CJ, Mobley HLT. “Optimization of an experimental vaccine to prevent Escherichia coli urinary tract infection.” mBio (2020): 11:e00555-20. PMID: 32345645
         -Featured on This Week in Microbiology podcast episode #217.

  4. Mike LA, Tripathi A, Blankenship CM, Saluk A, Schultz P, Tamayo-Castillo G, Sherman DH, Mobley HLT. “Discovery of Nicoyamycin A, an inhibitor of uropathogenic Escherichia coli growth in low iron environments.” Chemical Communications, 53, (2017): 12778-12781. PMID: 29139494

  5. Mike LA, Smith SN, Sumner C, Mobley HLT. “Siderophore vaccine conjugates protect against uropathogenic Escherichia coli urinary tract infection.” PNAS, 113 (47), (2016): 13468-13473. PMID: 27821778

  6. Choby JE*, Mike LA*, Mashruwala AA, Dutter BF, Dunman PM, Sulikowski GA, Boyd JM, Skaar EP. “A small molecule inhibitor of iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis is toxic to Staphylococcus aureus in an Sae-dependent manner.” Cell Chemical Biology, 23 (11), (2016):1351-1361. PMID: 27773628 *co-first author
          -Highlighted in, Exposing the unique connection between metabolism and virulence in Staphylococcus aureus,” by Weiss, Fleeman, and Shaw.

  7. Dutter BF, Mike LA, Reid PR, Chong K, Ramos-Hunter S, Skaar EP, Sulikowski GA. “Decoupling activation of heme biosynthesis from anaerobic toxicity in a molecule active in Staphylococcus aureus.ACS Chemical Biology, 11 (5), (2016):1354-61. PMID: 26890615

  8. Mike LA, Choby JE, Brinkman PR, Olive LQ, Dutter BF, Ivan SJ, Gibbs CM, Sulikowski GA, Stauff DL, Skaar EP. “Two-component system cross-regulation integrates Bacillus anthracis response to heme and cell envelope stress.” PLOS Pathogens 10 (3), (2014):e1004044. PMID: 24675902

  9. Mike LA, Dutter BF, Stauff DL, Moore JL, Vitko NP, Aranmolate O, Kehl-Fie TE, Sullivan S, Reid PR, DuBois JL, Richardson AR, Caprioli RM, Sulikowski GA, Skaar EP. “Activation of heme biosynthesis by a small molecule that is toxic to fermenting Staphylococcus aureus.PNAS 110 (20), (2013): 8206-11. PMID: 23630262

  10. Anzaldi LL, Skaar EP.  “Overcoming the heme paradox: Heme toxicity and tolerance in bacterial pathogens.” Infection & Immunity 78, (2010): 4977-89. PMID: 20679437


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Last Updated: 8/5/22