Helen J. Wing

Helen J. Wing is an Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 1997, where she studied transcriptional gene regulation in Escherichia coli. She worked with both Prof. Stephen J.W. Busby and Prof. John R. Guest in her first post-doctoral position, where she employed biochemical approaches to study transcription. In 2000, Helen moved to the U.S. to take a post-doctoral position with Marcia B. Goldberg M.D. at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. It was here that she became interested in the transcriptional regulation of Shigella virulence genes and antimicrobial peptides. She joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2005.
The primary focus of my research laboratory is virulence gene expression in the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri, the causal agent of bacillary dysentery, which is estimated to kill over 1 million people each year. All four species of Shigella harbor a large virulence plasmid, which carries most of the genes required to cause disease in the human host, including those required for invasion, type III secretion and actin-based motility, a process that allows bacteria to spread from one human cell to another. We are interested in the environmental cues, the timing and the molecular events that trigger the expression of virulence genes. We are particularly interested in the complex interplay between nucleoid structuring proteins, proteins that facilitate the packaging of DNA into tiny cells, and the transcriptional regulators of virulence in Shigella VirF and VirB.

Christine Cremo

Dr. Christine Cremo has worked in the field of muscle proteins since her doctoral work on the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor in the heart. After working on fluorescent nucleotide derivatives for studies on skeletal myosin structure and function, she moved on to try to understand the regulation of the smooth muscle myosin ATPase by phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain. The focus has been on structure-function relationships. This work is ongoing, as well as a new focus on structure-function relationships of smooth muscle myosin light chain kinase. This work has high relevance to several human diseases such as asthma, hypertension, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Seungil Ro

My research interest is studying the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) that control gut neuromuscular (motility) disorders. The gut is a vital organ for human survival: it is where food is digested, where nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream, and where undigested waste moves through and leaves the body. This digestive process is achieved by the synchronized movement (motility) of gastrointestinal (GI) muscle, which mixes food and propels the digested content through the GI tract. Motility of GI muscle is controlled by three key cells: enteric nervous system (ENS), interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC), and smooth muscle cells (SMCs). ENS and ICC generate complex rhythmic motor behavior and spontaneous electrical slow waves, respectively, both of which control SMCs, the final effectors for muscle contraction and muscle relaxation. Developmental abnormalities and pathophysiological damage of these cells are directly linked to GI neuromuscular diseases such as Hirschsprung’s disease, diabetic gastroenteropathy (DGEP), gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO).