faculty navigation



Patricia J. Kiley

patricia kiley

Professor and Chair

4204C Biochemical Sciences Building
440 Henry Mall
Madison WI 53706
Postal address click here

Fax: (608) 262-5253

Office: (608) 262-6632

mail pjkiley@wisc.edu

The Kiley Lab


  • B.S. 1979, University of Massachusetts;
  • Ph.D. 1987, University of Illinois (S. Kaplan);
  • Postdoctoral, 1987-90, University of Wisconsin (W. Reznikoff).

Honors & Awards

  • Shaw Scientist Award, 1992.
  • National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, 1993
  • Vilas Associate Award, 2004
  • Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology, 2007

Research Interests

We are interested in the signaling pathways and gene expression programs organisms use to respond to changes in the levels of oxygen in the environment. Oxygen is essential for life of aerobic organisms but can also act as a poison by causing oxidative damage to proteins, lipids and DNA. Therefore, an organism’s ability to respond efficiently and precisely to oxygen is critical to its survival.

Our approach is to focus on the mechanisms of key transcription factors in Escherichia coli that regulate this single-celled microbe’s lifestyle in different oxygen environments. E. coli is an excellent model organism to investigate because of the rich history of study in this area, and because of the facile genomic, molecular genetic, biochemical and physiological approaches that can be exploited in this bacterium. Our findings also impact on understanding the integration of global regulatory networks with signal specific regulators to efficiently control gene expression in response to various inputs.

We are studying two transcription factors, IscR and FNR, that exploit Fe-S metal centers in the global response to oxygen. FNR contains an oxygen labile [4Fe-4S] cluster and functions as an oxygen sensor. IscR contains a [2Fe-2S] cluster and senses Fe-S cluster availability via cluster synthesis. Our results indicate that the properties of Fe-S proteins enable exquisite control of their function as transcription factors.

We are also discovering how these transcription factors reprogram gene expression to allow E. coli to adapt to oxygen limiting environments similar to that found in the gut, which is an important habitat of this bacterium. We have used global gene expression profiling (microarrays) to uncover the roles of IscR and FNR in controlling transcription under these conditions. As expected, we found that E. coli responds to oxygen deprivation by synthesizing proteins that provide alternate mechanisms for conserving energy when oxygen is not available. However, we also discovered new functions that are upregulated under anaerobic conditions and we hypothesize that these contribute in a novel way to anaerobic growth.

Publications of Note

Giel, J.L., D. Rodionov, M. Liu, F. R. Blattner, and P. J. Kiley.  2006. IscR-dependent gene expression links iron-sulfur cluster assembly to the control of O2-regulated genes in Escherichia coli.  Mol. Microbiol. 4:1058-1075.

Mettert, E, and P. J. Kiley. 2005. ClpXP-dependent proteolysis of FNR upon loss of its O2-sensing [4Fe-4S] cluster.  J. Mol. Biol. 354:220-232.

Kang, Y., K. Derek Weber, Y. Qiu, P.J. Kiley and F. R. Blattner. 2005. Genome wide expression analysis indicates that FNR of Escherichia coli K12 regulates a large number of genes of unknown function. J. Bacteriol. 187:1135-1160

Sutton, V.R, T. Patschkowski, and P.J. Kiley. 2004. Superoxide destroys the [2Fe-2S]2+ cluster of FNR from Escherichia coli. Biochemistry. 43:791-798.

Sutton, V. R., E. L. Mettert, H. Beinert, and P.J. Kiley. 2004. Kinetic analysis of the oxidative conversion of the [4Fe-4S]2+ cluster of FNR to a [2Fe-2S]2+ cluster. J. Bacteriol 186: 8018-8025.

Lamberg, K. E., C. Luther, K.D. Weber and P.J. Kiley. 2002. Characterization of activating region 3 from Escherichia coli. J. Mol. Biol. 315:275-283.

Moore, L. and P.J. Kiley. 2001. Characterization of the dimerization domain in the FNR transcription factor. J. Biol. Chem. 276: 45744-45750.

Schwartz, C. J., J. L. Giel, T. Patschkowski, C. Luther, F. J. Ruzicka, H. Beinert and P. J. Kiley. 2001. IscR, an Fe-S cluster containing transcription factor, represses expression of Escherichia coli genes encoding Fe-S cluster assembly proteins. PNAS 98: 14895-14900.

Selected Reviews

Kiley P.J. and G. Storz. 2004. Exploiting thiol modifications. PLOS Biology 2:1714-1717.

Kiley, P. J. and H. Beinert. 2003. Role of Fe-S clusters in sensing and regulating bacterial growth. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 6:181-185.

Sutton, V.R., and P.J. Kiley. 2003 Anaerobic isolation and assays for the transcription factor FNR from Escherichia coli. Methods in Enzymology. 370: 300-12.

Patschowski, T., D. M. Bates and P. J. Kiley. 2000. Mechanism for sensing and responding to oxygen deprivation in prokaryotic organisms. "Bacterial Stress Responses" ASM Press Washington, D. C. p. 61- 78.

Perform a customized PubMed literature search for Dr. Kiley.



University of Wisconsin - Department of Biomolecular Chemistry
First published: 01/01/05 Last updated: 9/29/05 Email Biomolecular Chemistry
Copyright © 2005 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System


biomolecular chemistry home graduate program department faculty jon audhya david brow joshua coon george craciun james dahlberg john denu robert fillingame catherine fox melissa harrison christina hull tricia kiley deane mosher bmc courses events calendar department info contact info michael sheets Matthew Merrins Peter Lewis uw madison homepage