Brenda  Anne Wilson

Office: (217) 244-9631
Lab: (217) 265-8260
Fax: (217) 244-6697

Mail to: B128 CLSL, MC-110
601 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801
Video Interview

Brenda Anne Wilson

Professor of Microbiology

Research Topics

Enzymology, Genomics, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Microbial Ecology, Signal Transduction, Toxins


B.A. (Biochemistry and German), Barnard College/Columbia University, 1981
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany, Diplomarbeit 1981-1982
Ph.D. (Chemistry), Johns Hopkins University, 1989
Postdoctoral (Microbiology and Molecular Genetics), Harvard Medical School, 1989-1993

Teaching Interests

Bacterial protein toxins, their interaction with host cells, their effects on intracellular signal transduction, and development of novel alternative anti-toxin therapeutics; human and nonhuman primate vaginal and gut microbial ecosystems (microbiomes) and their role in health and disease

Research in the Wilson laboratory involves studying the molecular interactions and biochemical mechanisms by which protein toxins produced by pathogenic bacteria cause their toxic effects on animal cells. When the bacterial toxins are released into the media of the host, they can interact with or even enter host cells and interfere with normal signal transduction and physiological function, thereby disrupting the delicate balance of cellular metabolism, often lethally. One project involves studying the structure, function and pathogenic mechanisms of the potent dermonecrotic toxins produced by Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella sp., E. coli, and Yersinia. Like many other toxins, these toxins are currently being used as potent tools for studying signal transduction pathways and physiological processes within cells. The laboratory is interested in understanding the underlying mechanism of how these toxins carry out their effects on these processes. For example, the laboratory has discovered that the pleiotropic effects on different tissue cells caused by the toxin from P. multocida is due to the diverse roles that the toxin’s targets have in different cell types, which in turn influence the cellular and organismic outcomes of toxin action.

BAW Figure

Of particular interest to the Wilson laboratory is translational biomedical research aimed at development of post-exposure anti-toxin therapeutics. This requires a global understanding of the downstream metabolic and signaling pathways that are affected by toxins, so as to identify potential sites for intervention. The Wilson lab has initiated proteomic and metabolomic research projects to identify biomarkers of cellular toxicity (i.e. toxicogenomics), which is part of the IGB Theme on Mining Microbial Genomics for Novel Antibiotics. As part of an inter-institutional collaborative effort (the NIH-sponsored Great Lakes Regional Center for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases) to combat botulism, the Wilson lab is developing novel post-exposure anti-toxin therapeutics against botulinum neurotoxins as well as highly sensitive, high-throughput detection assays for distinguishing among botulinum neurotoxins. There is currently no effective antidote for preventing or reversing botulism or paralysis once exposure has occurred and symptoms of disease have initiated. A major goal of this translational biomedical research is to design novel anti-toxins for neuronal cell-specific delivery of post-exposure therapeutics.

Dr. Wilson is also engaged in collaborative translational research to exploit comparative and functional genomic technologies to study the dynamic interactions between the host and its commensal as well as pathogenic microbes, i.e. the microbial ecology in the host environment (microbiomes). This research focuses on the complex ecosystem of the vaginal and gut microbiota and their impact on health and disease in human and nonhuman primates. A central goal is to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms of vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis and the role of normal and abnormal microbiota in disease susceptibility and progression. Studying both human and nonhuman primate vaginal ecosystems has the potential to address human biomedical questions by establishing an evolutionary and comparative biology context that considers environments, microbes, and host immune systems. Dr. Wilson is Editor-in-Chief of the recently launched journal Microbiome Science and Medicine , and members of the microbiome community are welcome to submit their manuscripts to MICSM.

Representative Publications

Wilson BA, Ho M (book chapter) "The biosecurity threat posed by biological toxins" In: Handbooks in Toxinology: Biological Toxins and Bioterrorism (2015), Gopalakrishnakone P, Balali-Mood M, Singh BR, Llewellyn L (Eds.), Springer Science, Dordrecht, pp. 141-183.

Wilson BA, Ho M (review) "Cargo-delivery platforms for targeted delivery of inhibitor cargos against botulism" Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry (2014) 14(18):2081-2093 [PMID: 25335885]

Yildirim S; Yeoman CJ; Chandra Janga S; Thomas SM; Ho M; Leigh SR; White BA; Wilson BA*; Stumpf RM* "Primate vaginal microbiomes exhibit species specificity without universal Lactobacillus dominance" ISME J (2014) 8(12):2431-2444 (*co-senior authors) [PMID: 25036926]

Walther-Antonio MR; Jeraldo P; Berg Miller ME; Yeoman CJ; Nelson KE; Wilson BA; White BA; Chia N; Creedon DJ "Pregnancy's stronghold on the vaginal microbiome" PLoS ONE (2014), 9(6):e98514 [PMID: 24896831]

Stumpf RM, WilsonBA, Rivera A, Yildirim S, Yeoman CJ, Polk JD, White BA, Leigh SR " Am J Phys Anthropol 152 Suppl 57:199-134 [PMID: 24166771]

Wilson BA, Ho M "Pasteurella multocida - from zoonoses to cellular microbiology" Clinical Microbiology Reviews (2013) 26(3):631-655 [PMID: 23824375]

Repella TL; Ho M; Wilson BA "Determinants of pH-dependent modulation of translocation in dermonecrotic G-protein-deamidating toxins" Toxins (2013), 5:1167-1179 [PMID: 23771204]

Brothers MC; Geissler B; Hisao GS; Wilson BA; Satchell KJF; Rienstra CM "Backbone 1H, 13C, and 15N and side-chain assignments of an effector membrane localization domain from Vibrio vulificus MARTX toxin" J Biomolecular NMR (2013), in press [PMID: 23765285]

Brothers MC; Geissler B; Hisao GS; Satchell KJF; Wilson BA; Rienstra CM "Backbone 1H, 13C, and 15N and side-chain assignments of the membrane localization domain from Pasteurella multocida toxin" J Biomolecular NMR (2013), 8(1):221-4 [PMID: 23765284]

Gargi A; Tamilselvam B; Powers B; Prouty MG; Lincecum T; Eshraghi A; Maldonado-Arocho FJ; Wilson BA; Bradley KA; Blanke SR “Cellular interactions of the cytolethal distending toxins from Escherichia coli and Haemophilus ducreyiJ Biol Chem (2013), 288(11):7492-7505 [PMID: 23306199]

Yeoman CJ; Thomas SM; Berg Miller ME; Ulanov AV; Torralba M; Lucas S; Gillus M; Gomez A; Ho M; Leigh SR; Stumpf R; Creedon DJ; Smith MA; Weisbaum JS; Nelson KE; Wilson BA; White BA "A multi-omic systems-based approach reveals metabolic markers of bacterial vaginosis and insight into the disease" PLoS One (2013), 8(2):e56111 [PMID: 23405259]

Amato KR; Yeoman CJ; Kent A; Righini N; Carbonero F; Estrada A; Gaskins HR; Stumpf RM; Yildirim S; Torralba M; Gillis M; Wilson BA; Nelson KE; White BA; Leigh SR "Habitat degradation impacts Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra) gastrointestinal microbiomes" ISME J (2013) 7:10.1038 [PMID: 23486247]

Oubrahim H; Wong A; Wilson BA; Chock PB "Pasteurella multocida toxin (PMT) upregulates CTGF which leads to mTORC1 activation in Swiss 3T3 cells" Cell Signaling (2013) 25(5):1136-1148 [PMID: 23415771]

Oubrahim H; Wong A; Wilson BA; Chock PB "Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) plays a role in Pasteurella multocida toxin (PMT)-mediated protein synthesis and proliferation in Swiss 3T3 cells" J Biol Chem (2013), 288(4):2805-2815 [PMID: 23223576]

Stumpf RM, Wilson BA, Rivera A, Yildirim S, Yeoman CJ, White BA, Polk JD, Leigh SR "Primate vaginal microbial ecology: Comparative content and implications for human health and disease" Am J Phys Anthropol (2013) 152(S57):119-134: doi: 10.1002/ ajpa.22395

Orth JHC; Fester I; Siegert P; Weise M; Lanner U; Kamitani S; Tachibana T; Wilson BA; Schlosser A; Horiguchi Y; Aktories K "Substrate specificity of Pasteurella multocida toxin for α-subunits of heterotrimeric G proteins" FASEB J (2012) 27(2):832-842 [PMID: 23150526]

Bannai Y; Aminova LR; Faulkner MJ; Ho M; Wilson BA "Rho/ROCK-dependent inhibition of 3T3-L1 adipogenesis by G-protein-deamidating dermonecrotic toxins through differential regulation of Notch1, Pref1/Dlk1, and β-catenin signaling" Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology (2012), 2:80e [PMID: 22919671]

Ho M; Goh C-H; Brothers MC; Wang S; Young RL; Ou Y; Lui JN-M; Kalafatis M; Lan X; Wolf AE; Rienstra CM; Wilson BA "Glycine insertion at protease cleavage site of SNAP25 resists cleavage but enhances affinity for botulinum neurotoxin serotype A" Protein Science (2012), 21:318-326 [PMID: 22170566]

Wilson BA; Ho M “Cellular and molecular action of the mitogenic protein-deamidating toxin from Pasteurella multocidaFEBS Journal (2011), 278(23):4616-4632 [PMID: 21569202]

White BA; Creedon DJ; Nelson KE; Wilson BA “The vaginal microbiome in health and disease” Trends Endocrin Metab (2011), 22(10):389-393 [PMID: 21757370]

Brothers MC; Ho M; Maharjan R; Clemons NC; Bannai Y; Waites MA; Faulkner MJ; Kuhlenschmidt TB; Kuhlenschmidt MS; Blanke SR; Rienstra CM; Wilson BA “Membrane interaction of Pasteurella multocida toxin involves sphingomyelin” FEBS Journal (2011), 278(232):4633-4648 [PMID: 21951695]

Wilson BA; Salyers AA; Whitt DD; Winkler ME. Bacterial Pathogenesis: A Molecular Approach (Third Edition), ASM Press, Washington, DC (2011) [textbook]

Repella T; Ho M; Chong TPM; Bannai Y; Wilson BA “Arf6-dependent intracellular trafficking of Pasteurella multocida toxin and pH-dependent translocation from late endosomes” Toxins (2011) 3:218-241 [PMID: 22053287]

Yeoman CJ; Chia N; Yildirim S; Berg Miller ME, Stumpf R, Leigh SR; Nelson KE; White BA; Wilson BA “Towards an Evolutionary Model of Animal-Associated Microbiomes” Entropy (2011) 13:570-594 (e13030570) []

Ho M; Chang L-H; Pires-Alves M; Thyagarajan B; Bloom JE; Gu Z; Aberle KK; Bannai Y; Johnson SC; McArdle JJ; Wilson BA “Expression and purification of botulinum neurotoxin A heavy chain-based GFP-fusion proteins as prototype delivery vehicles for neuronal cell targeting” Protein Engineering, Design, and Selection (2011) 24(3):247-253 [PMID: 21051321]

Yildirim S; Rivera AJ; Leigh SR; Yeoman CJ; White BA; Goldberg TL; Wilson BA; Stumpf RM "Vaginal microbial community structure and maternal ecology in primates" Am J Phys Anthropol (2011) S144:315-316

Wilson BA; Ho M “Recent insights into Pasteurella multocida toxin and other G-protein-modulating bacterial toxins” Future Microbiology (2010) 5(8):1185-1201 [PMID: 20722598]

Yildirim S; Yeoman CJ; Sipos M; Torralba M; Wilson BA; Goldberg TL; Stumpf RM; Leigh SR; White BA; Nelson KE “Characterization of fecal microbiome from non-human wild primates reveals species specific microbial communities” PLoS ONE (2010) 5(11):e13963 [PMID: 21103066]

Yeoman CJ; Yildirim S; Thomas SM; Durkin AS; Torralba M; Sutton G; Buhay CJ; Ding Y; Dugan-Rocha SP; Muzny DM; Qin X; Gibbs RA; Leigh SR; Stumpf R; White BA; Highlander S; Nelson KE; Wilson BA “Comparative genomics of Gardnerella vaginalis strains reveals substantial differences in metabolic and virulence potential” PLoS ONE (2010), 5(8):e12411 [PMID: 20865041]

Gupta VR; Wilson BA; Blanke SR “Sphingomyelin is important for the uptake and intracellular trafficking of Helicobacter pylori VacA” Cellular Microbiology (2010), 12(10):1517-1533 [PMID: 20545942]

Rivera AJ; Frank JA; Stumpf RM; Salyers AA; Wilson BA; Olsen GJ; Leigh S “Differences between the normal vaginal bacterial community of baboons and that of humans” Am J Primatol (2010) 71:1-8 [PMID: 20853395]

Dong J; Thompson AA; Fan Y; Lou J; Conrad F; Ho M; Pires-Alves M; Wilson BA; Stevens RC; Marks JD “A single-domain llama antibody potently inhibits the enzymatic activity of botulinum neurotoxin by binding to the non-catalytic alpha-exosite binding region” J Mol Biol (2010) 397:1106-1118 [PMID: 20138889]

Rivera AJ; Stumpf RM; Wilson BA; Leigh S; Salyers AA “Baboon vaginal microbiota: an overlooked aspect of primate physiology” Am J Primatol (2010) 72:467-474 [PMID: 20095026]

Orth JHC; Preuß I; Fester I; Schlosser A; Wilson BA; Aktories K “Pasteurella multocida toxin activates various heterotrimeric G proteins by deamidation” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (2009) 106:7179-7184 [PMID: 22069582]

Kim TK; Thomas SM; Ho M; Sharma S; Reich C; Frank J; Yeater KM; Biggs D; Nakamura N; Stumpf R; Leigh SR; Tapping RI; Blanke SR; Slauch JM; Gaskins HR; Weisbaum JS; Olsen GJ; Hoyer LL, Wilson BA “Heterogeneity of vaginal microbial communities within individuals” J Clin Microbiol (2009) 47:1181-1189 [PMID: 19158255]

Pires-Alves M; Ho M; Aberle KK; Janda KD; Wilson BA “Tandem fluorescent proteins as FRET-based substrates for botulinum neurotoxin activity” Toxicon (2009) 53:392-399 [PMID: 19168088]

Orth JHC; Fester I; Preuß I; Agnoletto L; Wilson BA; Aktories K “Activation of Gαi and subsequent uncoupling of receptor-Gαi signaling by Pasteurella multocida toxin” J Biol Chem (2008) 283:23288-23294 [PMID: 18583341]

Ozgen N; Obreztchikova M; Guo J; Elouardighi H; Dorn GW 2nd; Wilson BA; Steinberg SF “Protein kinase D links Gq-coupled receptors to cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB)-Ser133 phosphorylation in the heart” J Biol Chem (2008) 283:17009-17019 [PMID: 18378685]

Frank JA; Reich CI; Sharma S; Weisbaum JS; Wilson BA; Olsen GJ “Critical evaluation of two commonly-used primers for amplification of bacterial 16S rRNA genes” Appl Environ Microbiol (2008) 74:2461-2470 [PMID: 18296538]

Aminova LR; Luo S; Bannai Y; Ho M; Wilson BA “The C3 domain of Pasteurella multocida toxin is the minimal domain responsible for activation of calcium and mitogenic signaling” Protein Science (2008) 17:1-5 [PMID: 18369188]

Luo S; Ho M; Wilson BA “Application of intact cell-based NFAT-β-lactamase reporter assay to study Pasteurella multocida toxin-mediated activation of calcium signaling pathway” Toxicon (2008) 51:597-605 [PMID: 18190943]

Wilson BA “Global Biosecurity in a Complex, Dynamic World” Complexity (2008) 14(1):71-88 []

Aminova LR; Wilson BA “Calcineurin-independent inhibition of 3T3-L1 adipogenesis by Pasteurella multocida toxin: Suppression of Notch1, stabilization of β-catenin and Pref1” Cellular Microbiology (2007) 9:2485-2496 [PMID: 17581254]

Baldwin MR; Tepp WH; Pier CL; Bradshaw M; Ho M; Wilson BA; Fritz RB; Johnson EA; Barbieri JT “Characterization of the antibody response to the receptor binding domain of botulinum neurotoxin serotypes A and E” Infect Immun (2005) 73:6998-7005 [PMID: 16177380]

Sabri A; Wilson BA; Steinberg SF “Dual actions of the Gαq agonist Pasteurella multocida toxin to promote cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and enhance apoptosis susceptibility” Circ Res (2002) 90:850-857 [PMID: 11988485]

Wilson BA; Aminova LR; Ponferrada VG; Ho M “Differential modulation and subsequent blockade of mitogenic signaling and cell cycle progression by Pasteurella multocida toxin” Infect Immun (2000), 68:4531-4538 [PMID: 10899852]

Seo B; Choy EW; Maudsley; Miller WE; Wilson BA; Luttrell LM “Pasteurella multocida toxin stimulates mitogen-activated protein kinase via Gq/11-dependent transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor" J Biol Chem (2000) 275:2239-2245 [PMID: 10636931]

Wilson BA; Zhu X; Ho M; Lu L “Pasteurella multocida Toxin activates the inositol trisphosphate signalling pathway in Xenopus oocytes via Gq-coupled phospholipase C-β1" J Biol Chem (1997) 272:1268-1275 [PMID: 8995431]

Complete Publications List