My broader interests are in understanding the inductive signals that regulate cell fate and body patterning during animal development. My research in the Thomsen lab has focused on a largely unstudied large GTPase, GTPBP2, which we have discovered is required for normal pattern formation in the frog embryo. Using both biochemical and reverse genetic techniques, I found that GTPBP2 interacts with intracellular components of the Wnt signaling pathway, and is required for the proper transduction of these signals. As mutations which hyperactivate the Wnt pathway occur in many human cancers, including familial colon cancer and aggressive triple-negative breast cancers, I am now testing if knockdown of GTPBP2 would alleviate the abnormal cell proliferation and migration seen in these cancers. As a NY-CAPS IRACDA fellow, in addition to my research I am committed to undergraduate and graduate teaching and research mentorship, and am currently adjunct faculty teaching Intro Biology at SUNY Old Westbury.
Gillis WQ, Kirmizitas A, Iwasaki Y, Ki D, Wyrick JM, Thomsen G “Gtpbp2 is required for embryonic Wnt signaling by maintaining low Axin levels.” In revision, EMBO Reports
Chipman AD, Ferrier DEK and the Strigamia maritima sequencing and annotation consortium (105 authors, including WQ Gillis (#29) Prototypical Arthropod Gene Content and Genome Organisation in the Centipede Strigamia maritima. PLoS Biology (in press)
Kirmizitas A, Gillis WQ, Zhu H, Thomsen GH (2014) “Gtpbp2 is required for BMP signalling and mesoderm patterning in Xenopus embryos”. Dev Biol 2014 Aug 15;392(2):358-67
Sorrentino GM, Gillis WQ, Oomen-Hajagos J, Thomsen GH “Conservation and Evolutionary Divergence in the Activity of Receptor-Regulated Smads” Evodevo. 2012 Oct 1;3(1):22
Gillis WQ, St John J, Bowerman B, Schneider SQ “Whole genome duplications and expansion of the vertebrate GATA transcription factor gene family” BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2009, 9:207
Gillis WQ, Bowerman B, Schneider SQ “The evolution of protostome GATA factors: molecular phylogenetics, synteny, and intron/exon structure reveal orthologous relationships” BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2008, 8:122
Gillis WJ, Bowerman B, Schneider SQ “Ectoderm- and endomesoderm-specific GATA transcription factors in the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii” Evolution and Development 9 (1): 39-50 JAN-FEB 2007
S. Khan, R. Makkena, F. McGeary, K. Decker, W. Gillis, and C.J. Schmidt. “A Multi-Agent System for the Quantitive Simulation of Biological Networks”. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, 2003.
S. Khan, K. Decker, W. Gillis, and C.J. Schmidt. A Multi-Agent System-driven AI Planning Approach to Biological Pathway Discovery. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Automated Planning, 2003.