Dr Douglas F. Browning BSc(Hons) PhD

Dr Douglas F. Browning

School of Biosciences
Senior Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Doug Browning is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Biosciences and the Institute of Microbiology and Infection. His research focuses on two main areas: how pathogenic bacteria regulate gene expression in response to multiple environmental and metabolic signals, and how the outer membranes of Gram-negative bacteria are assembled and how they can be disrupted.


  • PhD
  • BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences (Genetics)


Doug Browning graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Biological Sciences before moving to the University of Warwick to carry out his Ph.D. in Microbiology. After its completion, he moved back to Birmingham and now investigates the regulation of gene expression in bacterial pathogens and the biogenesis of outer membranes in Gram-negative bacteria. 


Delivery of various lectures and tutorials.

Supervision of undergraduate and MSc laboratory based research projects.

Tutor for the “Access to Birmingham (A2B)” initiative.

Postgraduate supervision

Doug Browning currently supervises a PhD student, investigating the regulation of gene expression in pathogenic Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC).


Regulation of bacterial virulence. During their transition through the mammalian gut, enteric bacteria experience many harsh environmental conditions, having to cope with limited nutrients, low oxygen tensions and the presence of toxic molecules. Thus, to survive and cause disease, enteric pathogens must sense their environment and adapt by altering their patterns of gene expression. This is largely achieved by controlling transcription initiation and in many cases involves the interplay of several global transcription factors at promoter regions. Doug Browning’s research examines how global transcription factors (e.g. CRP, FNR, AggR and NarL) and protein factors which fold the bacterial chromosome (e.g. IHF, Fis and HNS) can coordinate genome wide gene expression in pathogens such as enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), Shigella flexneri and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.

Insertion of β-barrel membrane proteins into the outer membranes of bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria have an outer membrane that functions as a barrier to protect the bacterium from toxic compounds such as antibiotics and detergents. It is composed of phospholipids, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and two major classes of proteins, lipoproteins and integral β-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs). Insertion of OMPs in E. coli is an essential process and is carried out by the BAM complex (β-barrel assembly machinery). In E. coli this multi-protein complex consists of the OMP BamA and four accessory lipoproteins (BamB, BamC, BamD and BamE). Doug Browning’s research examines how the BAM complex orchestrates the folding and insertion of OMPs into the outer membrane of E. coli and how this machinery differs in other important Gram-negative bacteria, such as Haemophilus influenzae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Neisseria meningitidis.

Google Scholar Profile: http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?hl=en&user=xZF8C8IAAAAJ
Research Gate Profile: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Douglas_Browning

Other activities

Member of the Microbiology Society.

Elected member of the Microbiology Society Professional Development Committee.


Key Review Articles:

  1. Browning, D. F.* and Busby, S. J. W. (2016) Local and global regulation of transcription initiation in bacterial. Nature Microbiology Reviews. 14:638-650. *Corresponding author.
  2. Fornelos, N and Browning, D. F.* and Butala, M. (2016) The use and abuse of LexA by mobile genetic elements. Trends in Microbiology. In press. *Corresponding author.
  3. Browning, D.F., Grainger, D. C. and Busby, S. J. W. (2010) Effects of nucleoid-associated proteins on bacterial chromosome structure and gene expression. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 13:773-780.
  4. Browning, D. F. and Busby, S. J. W. (2004) The regulation of bacterial transcription initiation. Nature Microbiology Reviews. 2: 57-65. Times Cited: 687.

Research Articles:

  1. Cadby, I.T., Ibrahim, S.A., Faulkner, M., Lee, D.J., Browning, D., Busby, S.J., Lovering, A.L., Stapleton, M.R., Green, J. and Cole, J.A. (2016) Regulation, sensory domains and roles of two Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ATCC27774 Crp family transcription factors, HcpR1 and HcpR2, in response to nitrosative stress. Molecular Microbiology. In press.
  2. Simona Kamenšek, S., Browning, D.F*, Podlesek, Z., Busby, S.J.W., Žgur‑Bertok, D. and Butala, M. (2015) Silencing of DNase colicin E8 gene expression by a complex nucleoprotein assembly ensures timely colicin induction. PLOS Genetics. 11(6):e1005354.*Corresponding and joint first author.
  3. Browning, D.F.*, Bavro, V.N., Mason, J.L., Sevastsyanovich, Y.R., Rossiter, A.E., Jeeves, M., Wells, T.J., Knowles, T.J., Cunningham, A.F., Donald, J.W., Palmer, T., Overduin, M. and Henderson IR. (2015) Cross-species chimeras reveal BamA POTRA and β-barrel domains must be fine-tuned for efficient OMP insertion. Molecular Microbiology. 97:646-59. *Corresponding author.
  4. Rossiter, A.E, Godfrey, R.E., Connolly, J.A., Busby, S.J.W., Henderson, I.R. and Browning, D.F. * (2015) Expression of different bacterial cytotoxins is controlled by two global transcription factors, CRP and Fis, that cooperate in a shared-recruitment mechanism. Biochemical Journal. 466:323-35. *Corresponding author.
  5. Timothy J. Wells, T.J., Whitters, D., Sevastsyanovich, Y.R., Heath, J.N., Pravin, J., Goodall, M., Browning, D.F., O’Shea, M.K., Cranston, A., De Soyza, A., Cunningham, A.F., MacLennan, C.A., Henderson, I.R. and Stockley, R.A. (2014)Increased severity of respiratory infections associated with elevated anti-LPS IgG2 which inhibits serum bactericidal killing.Journal of Experimental Medicine. 211:1893-1904.
  6. Browning, D.F. *, Matthews, S.A., Rossiter, A.E., Sevastsyanovich, Y.R., Jeeves, M., Mason, J.L., Wells, T.J., Wardius, C.A. Knowles, T.J., Cunningham, A.F., Bavro, V.N., Overduin, M., Henderson, I.R. (2013) Mutational and Topological Analysis of the Escherichia coli BamA protein. PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0084512. *Corresponding author.
  7. França, F.L.S., Wells, T.J, Browning, D.F., Nogueira, R.T., Sarges, F.S., Pereira, A. C., Cunningham, A.F., Lucheze, K., Rosa, A.C.P., Henderson, I.R. and das Graças de Luna, M. (2013) Genotypic and phenotypic characterisation ofenteroaggregative Escherichia coli from children in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0069971.
  8. Browning, D.F.*, Wells, T.J., França, F.L.S., Johnson, M.D., Morris, F.C., Bryant, J.A., Lund, P.A., Cunningham, A.F., Hobman, J.L., May, R.C., Webber, M.A. and Henderson, I.R. (2013) Laboratory adapted Escherichia coli K-12becomes a pathogen of Caenorhabditis elegans upon restoration of O antigen biosynthesis. Molecular Microbiology. 87:939-50.*Corresponding author. Faculty of 1000 recommended.
  9. Butala, M, Sonjak, S., Kamenšek, S., Hodošček, M., Browning, D.F., Žgur‑Bertok, D and Busby, S.J.W. (2012) Double locking of an Escherichia coli promoter by two repressors prevents premature colicin expression and cell lysis. Molecular Microbiology. 86:129-39.
  10. Leyton, D.L., Sevastsyanovich, Y.R., Browning, D.F., Rossiter, A.E, Wells, T.J., Fitzpatrick, R.E., Overduin, M., Cunningham, A.F. and Henderson, I.R. (2011) Size and shape matter: the autotransporter secretion pathway is intrinsically unable to secrete large disulphide-bonded regions. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286:42283-42291.
  11. Raghunathan, D., Wells, T.J., Morris, F.C., Shaw, R.K., Bobat, S., Peters, S.E., Paterson, G.K., Tveen-Jensen, K., Leyton, D.L., Blair1, J.M.A., Browning, D.F., Pravin, J., Flores-Langarica, A., Hitchcock, J.R., Moraes, C.T.P.5, Piazza, R.M.F., Maskell, D.J., Webber, M.A., May, R.C., MacLennan, C.A., Piddock, L.J., Cunningham, A.F. and Henderson, I.R. (2011) SadA, a trimeric autotransporter from Salmonella enterica Typhimurium, can promote biofilm formation and provides limited protection against infection. Infection and Immunity. 79:4342-4352.
  12. Rossiter, A. E., Leyton, D. L., Tveen-Jensen, K., Browning, D. F., Sevastsyanovich, Y., Knowles, T. J., Nicols, K., Cunningham, A. F., Overduin, M., Schembri, M. A. and  Henderson, I. R. (2011) The essential BAM complex components BamD and BamA are required for autotransporter biogenesis. Journal of Bacteriology. 193:4250-4253.
  13. Rossiter, A.E., Browning, D.F., Leyton, D.L., Johnson, M.D., Godfrey, R.E., Wardius, C.A, Desvaux, M., Cunningham, A.F., Ruiz-Perez, F., Nataro, J.P.,  Busby, S.J.W. and  Henderson, I.R. (2011) Transcription of the plasmid-encoded toxin gene from Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli is regulated by a novel co-activation mechanism involving CRP and Fis. Molecular Microbiology. 81:179-191.
  14. Clarke, D.J., Chaudhuri, R.R., Martin, H.M., Campbell, B.J., Rhodes, J.M., Constantinidou, C., Pallen, M.J., Loman, N.J., Cunningham, A.F., Browning, D.F.andHenderson, I.R. (2011) Complete genome sequence of the Crohn's disease-associated adherent-invasive Escherichia coli strain HM605. Journal of Bacteriology. 193:4540.
  15. Knowles, T.J., Browning, D.F. *, Jeeves, M., Maderbocus, R., Rajesh, S., Sridhar, P., Manoli, E., Emery, D., Sommer, U., Spencer, A., Leyton, D.L., Squire, D., Chaudhuri, R.R., Viant, M.R., Cunningham, A.F., Henderson, I.R. and Overduin, M.  (2011) Structure and function of BamE within the outer membrane and the β-barrel assembly machine. EMBO Reports. 12:123-128. *Joint first author.
  16. Leyton, D. L., Graças de Luna, M., Sevastsyanovich, Y. R., Jensen, K. T., Browning, D. F., Scott-Tucker, A. and Henderson, I. R. (2010) The unusual extended signal peptide region is not required for secretion and function of an Escherichia coli autotransporter. FEMS Microbiology Letters. 311:133-139.
  17. Chismon, D. L., Browning, D. F., Farrant, G. K. and Busby, S. J. W. (2010) Unusual organisation, complexity and redundancy at the Escherichia coli hcp-hcr operon promoter. Biochemical Journal. 430: 61-68.
  18. Browning, D. F.*, Lee, D. J., Spiro, S. and Busby, S. J. W. (2010) Down-regulation of the Escherichia coli K-12 nrf promoter by binding of the NsrR nitric oxide sensing transcription repressor to an upstream site. Journal of Bacteriology. 192:3824-3828. *Corresponding author.
  19. Marteyn, B., West, N. P., Browning, D. F., Cole, J. A., Shaw, J. G., Palm, F., Mounier, J., Prévost, M., Sansonetti, P. and Tang, C. M.(2010) Modulation of Shigella virulence in response to available oxygen in vivo. Nature. 465:355-358. Faculty of 1000 recommended.
  20. Squire, D. J. P., Xu, M., Cole J. A., Busby, S. J. W. and Browning, D. F. (2009) Competition between NarL-dependent activation and Fis‑dependent repression controls expression from the Escherichia coli yeaR and ogt promoters. Biochemical Journal. 420: 249-257.
  21. Xu, M, Busby, S. J. W. and Browning, D. F. (2009) Activation and repression at the Escherichia coli ynfEFGHI operon promoter.  Journal of Bacteriology. 191: 3172-3176. Faculty of 1000 recommended.
  22. Browning, D. F.*,Cole, J. A. and Busby, S. J. W. (2008) Regulation by nucleoid-associated proteins at the Escherichia coli nir operon promoter. Journal of Bacteriology. 190: 7258-7267. *Corresponding author.
  23. Partridge, J. D., Browning, D. F., Xu, M., Newnham, L. J., Scott, C., Poole, R. K. and Green, J. (2008) Characterisation of the Escherichia coli K-12 ydhYVWXUT Operon: Regulation by FNR, NarL and NarP. Microbiology. 154: 608-618.
  24. Filenko, N., Spiro, S., Browning, D. F., Squire, D., Overton, T. W. , Cole, J. and Constantinidou, C. (2007) The NsrR regulon of Escherichia coli K-12 includes genes encoding the hybrid cluster protein and the periplasmic, respiratory nitrite reductase. Journal of Bacteriology. 189: 4410-4417.
  25. Grainger, D. C., Aiba, H., Hurd, D., Browning, D. F and Busby, S. J. (2007) Transcription factor distribution in Escherichia coli: studies with FNR protein. Nucleic Acids Research. 35: 269-278. Faculty of 1000 recommended.
  26. Browning, D. F.*, Lee, D. J., Wolfe, A. J., Cole, J. A. and Busby, S. J. W. (2006) The Escherichia coli K-12 NarL and NarP proteins insulate the nrf promoter from the effects of IHF. Journal of Bacteriology. 188:7449-56.*Corresponding author.
  27. Browning, D. F., Grainger, D. C., Beatty, C. M., Wolfe, A. J., Cole, J. A. and Busby, S. J. W. (2005) Integration of three signals at the Escherichia coli nrf promoter: a role for Fis protein in catabolite repression. Molecular Microbiology.57:496-510.
  28. Kovács, A. T., Rákhely, G., Browning, D. F., Fülöp, A., Maróti, G., Busby, S. J. W. and Kovács, K. L. (2005) An FNR-type regulator controls the anaerobic expression of Hyn hydrogenase in Thiocapsa roseopersicina. Journal of Bacteriology. 187:2618-2627.
  29. Filenko, N. A., Browning, D. F. and Cole, J. A. (2005) Transcriptional regulation of a hybrid cluster (prismane) protein. Biochemistry Society Transactions. 33:195-197.
  30. Browning, D. F.,Cole, J. A. and Busby, S. J. W. (2004) Transcription activation by remodelling of a nucleoprotein assembly: the role of NarL at the FNR-dependent Escherichia coli nir promoter. Molecular Microbiology. 53:203-215.
  31. Browning, D. F.,  Beatty, C. M., Sanstad, E. A., Gunn, K. A., Busby, S. J. W. and Wolfe, A. J. (2004) Modulation of CRP-dependent transcription at the Eschericheria coli acsP2 promoter by nucleoprotein complexes: anti-activation by the nucleoid proteins FIS and IHF. Molecular Microbiology. 51: 241-254.
  32. Beatty, C. M., Browning, D. F., Busby, S. J. W. and Wolfe, A. J. (2003) CRP-dependent activation of the Escherichia coli acsP2 promoter by a synergistic Class III mechanism. Journal of Bacteriology. 185: 5148-5157.
  33. Browning, D. F., Whitworth, D. E. and Hodgson, D. A. (2003) Light-induced carotenogenesis in Myxococcus xanthus: functional characterisation of the ECF sigma factor CarQ and anti-sigma factor CarR. Molecular Microbiology. 48: 237-251.
  34. Browning, D. F., Beatty, C. M., Wolfe, A. J., Cole, J. A. and Busby, S. J. W. (2002) Independent regulation of the divergent Escherichia coli nrfA and acsP1 promoters by a nucleoprotein assembly at a shared regulatory region. Molecular Microbiology. 43: 687-701.
  35. Browning, D. F., Cole, J. A. and Busby, S. J. W. (2000) Suppression of FNR-dependent transcription activation at the Escherichia coli nir promoter by Fis, IHF and H-NS: modulation of transcription initiation by a complex nucleo-protein assembly. Molecular Microbiology. 37: 1258-1269.
  36. Kumari, S., Beatty, C. M., Browning, D. F., Busby, S. J. W., Simel, E. J., Hovel-Miner, G. and Wolfe, A. J. (2000) Regulation of acetyl Coenzyme A synthesis in Escherichia coli. Journal of Bacteriology. 182: 4173-4179.

Book Chapters:

  1. Browning, D. F., Grainger, D. C., Xu, M. and Busby, S. J. (2010)Transcriptional regulation by nucleoid-associated proteins at complex promoters in Escherichia coli. In Bacterial Chromatin (Dame and Dorman (eds)). pp 419-443. Springer, Netherlands.
  2. Browning, D., Savery, N., Kolb, A. and Busby, S. (2009) Assays for Transcription Factor Activity. In Methods in Molecular Biology, DNA-protein Interactions. (Moss and LeBlanc (eds)) pp 369-387. Humana Press, NJ, USA.
  3. Browning, D. F., Grainger, D. C. and Busby, S. J. (2009) Organisation of complex Escherichia coli promoters.In Systems Biology and Biotechnology of E. coli (Lee (ed)) pp 257-271. Springer, Netherlands.
  4. Browning, D., Lee, D., Green, J. and Busby, S. J. W. (2002) Secrets of bacterial transcription initiation taught by the Escherichia coli FNR protein. In Signals, Switches, Regulons, and Cascades (Hodgson and Thomas (eds)) pp 127-142. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

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