Jean M Wilson
Jean M. Wilson, Ph.D. is a Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Arizona and member of the Arizona Cancer Center. Dr. Wilson’s work focuses on the establishment and maintenance of the mucosal barrier of the intestine. The cells of the intestine provide a selective barrier to pathogens and toxins, and loss of this barrier function is fundamental to pathologies such as inflammatory bowel disease and bacterial infection. In addition, loss of cellular interactions important for barrier function may predispose these cells to cancer. Work in Dr. Wilson’s laboratory focuses on a protein that is highly expressed in developing intestine, implying a critical role in the formation of the intestinal epithelium. Disruption of this protein compromises junctional integrity and epithelial polarity. Furthermore, expression of this protein is decreased in a model of neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease of newborns with high morbidity and mortality. These findings implicate this protein in the maintenance of intestinal barrier function in the neonate. In addition, continued expression in the adult intestine positions it to regulate epithelial permeability and polarity throughout life. Our studies focus on protein partners that interact with this protein with the goal of identifying the molecular machinery that regulates this pathway.