Susan West

Department of Pathobiological Sciences

Susan West

Titles and Education

  1. Associate Professor of Microbiology
  2. BS 1969, University of South Carolina
  3. MS 1977, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  4. PhD 1986, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


The molecular biology of bacterial pathogens of medical and veterinary importance. This laboratory studies the molecular biology of bacterial pathogens of medical and veterinary importance. The major objectives are to identify the environmental signals which stimulate virulence factor expression and to understand the molecular mechanisms which control their expression. Currently, we are studying the regulation of virulence factor production by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the regulation of hemolysin production by the porcine pathogen Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae. To understand the mechanisms which control synthesis of several P. aeruginosa virulence factors, we are characterizing the vfr gene, a homolog of the E. coli crp gene, a transcriptional regulator. Vfr regulates the production of exotoxin A, several proteases, a non-hemolytic phospholipase, and the quorum sensing regulators LasR and RhlR. A. pleuropneumoniae produces several hemolysins/cytotoxins that are related to the RTX hemolysin family which includes the E. coli alpha-hemolysin. Our goal is to identify the environmental factor(s) which regulate hemolysin expression and to define the molecular mechanism which controls its production.


Veterinary Bacteriology - A lecture and laboratory course covering general bacteriological principles, identification of bacteria, and specific veterinary pathogens and the diseases they cause.

Recent Publications

  1. West, S.E.H., S.A. Kaye, A.N. Hamood and B.H. Iglewski (1994). Characterization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa mutants that are deficient in exotoxin A synthesis and are altered in expression of regA, a positive regulator of exotoxin A. Infect. Immun. 62:897-903.
  2. West, S.E.H., A.K. Sample and L.J. Runyen-Janecky (1994). The vfr gene product, required for Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A and protease production, belongs to the cyclic AMP receptor family. J. Bacteriol. 176:7532-7542.
  3. Runyen-Janecky, L.J., A.K. Sample, T.C. Maleniak and S.E.H. West (1997). A divergently transcribed open reading frame is located upstream of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa vfr gene, a homolog of Escherichia coli crp. J. Bacteriol. 179:2802-2809.
  4. Albus, A.M., E.C. Pesci, L.J. Runyen-Janecky, S.E.H. West and B.H. Iglewski (1997). Vfr controls quorum sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J. Bacteriol. 179:3928-3935.
  5. West, S.E.H., M.J.M. Romero, L.B. Regassa, N.A. Zielinski and R.A. Welch (1995). Construction of Actinobacillus-Escherichia coli shuttle vectors: expression of common antibiotic resistance genes. Gene. 160:81-86.