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Helen J. Wing is a 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), where she used genetics to study the transcriptional control mechanisms in Escherichia coli. In her first post-doctoral position, she worked with Prof. Stephen J.W. Busby and Prof. John R. Guest, employing biochemical approaches to study transcription. When 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 she became fascinated by the molecular events that control the transcription of Shigella virulence genes. She joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2005.

Dr. Helen Wing looks through a natural sandstone window


Helen J. Wing, Ph.D.

School of Life Sciences,

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

4505 S. Maryland Parkway

Las Vegas, NV 89154-4004

Office: Rm 307A

Phone: (702) 895 5382

Fax: (702) 895 3956

Email: helen.wing@unlv.edu





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Research focus:


The primary focus of my research laboratory is virulence gene expression in Shigella spp., causal agents of bacillary dysentery, which are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The large virulence plasmid of Shigella carries many 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, and the transcriptional regulators of virulence plasmid genes in Shigella, VirF and VirB.


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Selected publications:

Link to complete list of published work

McKenna JA, Karney MMA, Chan DK , Weatherspoon-Griffin N, Becerra Larios B, Pilonieta MC, Munson GP, Wing HJ. 2022. The AraC/XylS

Protein MxiE and Its Coregulator IpgC Control a Negative Feedback Loop in the Transcriptional Cascade That Regulates Type III Secretion

in Shigella flexneri. J. Bacteriol, e00137-22

Socea JN, GR Bowman GR, Wing HJ. 2021. VirB, a key transcriptional regulator of virulence plasmid genes in Shigella flexneri, forms DNA-binding site dependent foci in the bacterial cytoplasm. J Bacteriol. 203 (11), e00627-20

McKenna JA and Wing HJ. 2020. The antiactivator of type III secretion, OspD1, Is transcriptionally regulated by VirB and H-NS from Remote Sequences in Shigella flexneri. J Bacteriol 202 (10), e00072-20

Karney MMA, McKenna JA, Weatherspoon-Griffin N, Karabachev AD, Millar M, Potochek E and Wing HJ. 2019. Investigating the DNA-binding site for VirB, a key transcriptional regulator of Shigella virulence genes, using an in vivo binding tool. Genes 10 (2), 149

Weatherspoon‐Griffin N, Picker MA, Pew KL, Park HS, Ginete DR, Karney MMA, Usufzy P, Castellanos MI, Duhart JC, Harrison DJ, Socea JN, Karabachev AD, Hensley CT, Howerton AJ, Ojeda-Daulo R, Immak JA, Wing HJ. 2018. Insights into transcriptional silencing and anti‐silencing in Shigella flexneri: a detailed molecular analysis of the icsP virulence locus. Mol. Micro 108 (5), 505-518

Weatherspoon-Griffin N and Wing HJ. 2016. Characterization of SlyA in Shigella flexneri identifies a novel role in virulence. Inf Immunity 84 (4), 1073-1082

Weatherspoon-Griffin N, Picker MA, and Wing HJ. 2016. The Genetic Organization and Transcriptional Regulation of Shigella Virulence Genes. In WD Picking and WL Picking (Eds). Shigella: Molecular and Cellular Biology. Cambridge, UK Caister Academic Press.

Basta, DW, Pew KL, Immak JA, Park HS, Picker MA, Wigley AF, Hensley CT, Pearson JS, Hartland EL and Wing HJ. 2013. Characterization of the ospZ promoter in Shigella flexneri and its regulation by VirB & H-NS. J. Bacteriol 195: 2562-2572.

Broach WH, Egan NR, Wing HJ, Payne SP and Murphy ER. 2012. VirF-independent regulation of Shigella virB transcription is mediated by the small RNA RyhB. PLoS ONE.7(6): e38592.

Africa LA, Murphy ER, Egan NR, Wigley AF, Wing HJ. 2011. The iron-responsive Fur/RyhB regulatory cascade modulates the Shigella outer membrane protease IcsP. Infect Immun. 79(11):4543-9.

Hensley CT, Kamneva OK, Levy KM, Labahn SK, Africa LA, Wing HJ. 2011. Two promoters and two translation start sites control the expression of the Shigella flexneri outer membrane protease IcsP. Arch Microbiol. 193(4):263-74.

Castellanos MI, Harrison DJ, Smith JM, Levy KM, Labahn SK and Wing HJ. 2009. VirB alleviates H-NS repression of the icsP promoter in Shigella flexneri from sites over 1 kb upstream of the transcription start site. J Bacteriol. 191: 4047-4050