Linda J Kenney

Principal Investigator, MBI

lab: Bacterial Pathogenesis and Signal Transduction Lab (BPAST)

Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering, University of Illinois- Chicago

Signal transduction in Bacteria; Bacterial Pathogenesis; Mechanotransduction and osmotic signaling in E. coli; Mechanisms of anti-silencing of virulence genes in Salmonella

Our laboratory is interested in signal transduction and the regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes. In particular, we are studying the two-component regulatory system EnvZ/OmpR that regulates the expression of outer membrane proteins as well as many other genes. Our present work focuses on how OmpR activates genes required for systemic infection (located on Salmonella pathogenicity island 2) in Salmonella enterica.

The Kenney Lab’s research was recently featured in an article exploring the bacterial molecular switch between virulence or dormancy, Salmonella Lifestyle Choices. Members of her lab have discovered that the bacterial protein SsrB is the molecular switch for determining whether Salmonella infections become acute and virulent, or remain in a dormant carrier state.

The study is published in eLife (Desai et al., The horizontally-acquired response regulator SsrB drives a Salmonella lifestyle switch by relieving biofilm silencing, February 2, 2016, eLife 2016; 5: e10747, doi: 10.7554/eLife.10747). Read full article.

Dr Kenney is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Her laboratory studies two-component systems in bacteria that control gene expression at a single cell and nanometer level.

Linda Kenney talks about her scientific research. Recorded by IFOM during the Joint IFOM-MBI Conference, July 2014.

Desai, S.K., Winardhi, R.S., Dykas, M.M. Periasamy, S., Yan, J. and L.J. Kenney. The horizontally-acquired response regulator SsrB drives a Salmonella lifestyle switch by relieving biofilm silencing. e-Life. 5:e10747. 2016.DOI:

Winardhi R.S., Yan, J. and L.J. Kenney. H-NS is an Environmental Sensor that Regulates Gene Expression and Compacts the Nucleoid: Insights from Single Molecule Experiments. Biophys. J. 7:1321-1329. 2015. PMC 4601063

Foo, Y.H., Gao, Y., Zhang, H.F. and L.J. Kenney. Cytoplasmic Signaling by the Inner Membrane EnvZ Histidine Kinase. Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 118:119-129. 2015. PMID 25937465

Foo, Y.H., Spahn, C., Zhang, H.F., Heilemann, M. and L.J. Kenney. Single Cell Super-resolution Imaging of E. coli OmpR During Environmental Stress. Integrative Biology Mechanobiology Issue. 7:1297-1308. 2015. DOI: 10.1039/C5IB00077G

Cheong, F.C., Wong, C.C., Gao, Y., Nai, B.M.H., Cui, Y. Park, S., Kenney, L.J. and C.T. Lim. Rapid, High-throughput Tracking of Bacterial Motility in 3D using Phase Contrast Holographic Video Microscopy. Biophysical J. 108:1248-56.

Chakraborty S, Mizusaki H, Kenney LJ. A FRET-based DNA biosensor tracks OmpR-dependent acidification of Salmonella during macrophage infection. PLOS Biology. April 2015. 13(4):e1002116.

Lim, C.J., Kenney, L.J. and J. Yan. Two distinct DNA-binding modes of H-NS differentially regulate DNA supercoiling. Nuc. Acids. Res. 42(13):8369-78. 2014.

Adediran, J., Leatham-Jensen, M., Mokszycki, M.E., Frimodt-Mřller, J., Krogfelt, K.,  Kazmierczak, K., Kenney, L.J., Conway, T., and P.S. Cohen. An Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 P41L envZ Missense Mutant is a Better Colonizer of The Streptomycin-Treated Mouse Intestine than Wildtype E. coli Nissle 1917, but not a Better Probiotic Agent. Infect. Immun.82(2):670-82. 2014.

Wong, V., Pickard, D., Barquist, L., Sivaraman, K., Hart, P., Arends, M., Holt, K., Kane, L., Mottram, L., Ellison, L., Kay, S., Wileman, T., Kenney, L.J., MacLennan, C., Kingsley, R., and G. Dougan. Characterization of the yehUT two-component regulatory system of Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Typhimurium. PLoSOne. 8(12):e84567. 2013.

Wang, L. C., L. K. Morgan, P. Godakumbura, L.J. Kenney and G.S Anand. The inner membrane histidine kinase EnvZ senses osmolality via helix-coil transitions in the cytoplasm. EMBO J. 31(11): 2648-2659. PMC22543870.

Wang, L.C., Morgan, L.K., Godakumbura, P., Kenney, L.J. and G.S. Anand. Amide hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry reveals the inner membrane histidine kinase EnvZ senses osmolality via helix-coil transitions in the cytoplasm. EMBO J. 31:2648-2659. 2012. PMC22543870.

Lim, C.J., Whang, Y.R., Kenney, L.J. and J. Yan. Gene silencing H-NS paralogue StpA forms a rigid protein filament along DNA that blocks DNA accessibility. Nuc. Acids Res. 40:3316-3328. 2012. PMC22187157.

Naveed, H., Jimenez-Morales, D., Tian, J., Pasupuleti, V., Kenney, L.J. and J. Liang. Engineered oligomerization state of OmpF protein through computational design decouples oligomer dissociation from unfolding. J. Mol. Biol. 419:89-101. 2012. PMC22391420.

Lim, C. J., Lee, S. Y., Kenney, L. J. and J. Yan. Nucleoprotein filament formation is the structural basis for bacterial protein H-NS gene silencing. Sci Rep. 2:509-514. 2012 PMC3396134.

Walthers, D. Li, Y., Liu, Y. Yan, J. and L.J. Kenney. The Salmonella enterica response regulator SsrB relieves H-NS silencing by displacing H-NS bound in polymerization mode and directly activates transcription. J. Biol. Chem. 266:1895-1902. 2011.

Kenney, L.J. How Important is the Phosphatase Activity of Sensor Kinases? Invited review on Two-Component Regulatory Systems. Curr. Op. Microbiol. 13:1-9. 2010.

Liu, Y., Chen, H., Kenney, L.J. and J. Yan. A divalent switch drives H-NS/DNA binding conformations between stiffening and bridging modes. Genes Develop. 24(4):339-344. 2010.

Gerken, H., Charlson, E.S., Cicirelli, E.M., Kenney, L.J. and R. Misra. MzrA: a novel modulator of the EnvZ/OmpR two-component regulon. Mol. Microbiol. 6:1408-1422. 2009.

Lin, W.J., Walthers, D. Connelly, J.E., Burnside, K., Jewell, K.A., Kenney, L.J. and R. Rajagopal. Threonine phosphorylation prevents promoter DNA binding of the Group B Streptococcus response regulator CovR. Mol. Microbiol. 71:1477-1495. 2009.

Liao, X., Carroll, R., Morgan, L.K., Cicerelli, E., Li, Y., Sheng, W., Feng, X., and L.J. Kenney.Structural and functional analysis of the C-terminal DNA binding domain of the SalmonellaTyphimurium SPI-2 response regulator SsrB. J. Biol. Chem. 284:12008-12019. 2009.