Professor Anne Willis
Unit Director and Programme Leader
MRC Toxicology Unit
LE1 9HN, UK
Phone: 0116 2525611 (direct)
Or please try
EA: Tara Stevenson
Phone: 0116 2525544
Tel: +44 (0)116 252 5544 (Secretary)
Qualifications and Personal History
Unit Programme: Post-transcriptional control of gene expression following toxic injury
Key words: Toxic injury, post-transcriptional control, RNA binding proteins, mRNA translation, therapeutic RNAs, tRNAs
Anne obtained a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of London while working in the Imperial Cancer Research Fund laboratories (now CRUK) on DNA repair with Dr Tomas Lindahl. She then moved to Cambridge to work with Professor Richard Perham in the Department of Biochemistry, where she also held a Junior Research Fellowship and then a College Lectureship at Churchill College Cambridge. Anne was appointed to her first independent position as a Lecturer in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Leicester, progressing to Reader in 2002 and Professor in 2004, from 2000-2005 she held a BBSRC Advanced Fellowship. In 2004, she was appointed Director of Cancer Research Nottingham and Chair of Cancer Cell Biology, where she was based in the School of Pharmacy. From 2009-2013 Anne held a BBSRC Professorial Fellowship. In 2010 Anne became Director of the MRC Toxicology Unit. Anne was appointed as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation in 2015, and in 2017 awarded an OBE for services to biomedical sciences and supporting the careers of women scientists.
2010-Present Director, MRC Toxicology Unit
2008-2013 BBSRC Professorial Fellowship
2004-2010 Professor in Cancer Cell Biology, RNA Biology Group, University of Nottingham
2000-2005 BBSRC Advanced Fellow
2004 Professor in Biochemistry, University of Leicester
2002-2004 Reader in Biochemistry, University of Leicester
1992-2000 Lecturer in Biochemistry, University of Leicester
1988-1992 Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College Cambridge & Research Associate in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge
PhD ICRF (now CRUK) Clare Hall laboratories working with Dr T Lindahl
Anne’s research in the Unit is directed towards understanding the role of post-transcriptional control in response to toxic injury with a focus on RNA-binding proteins, regulatory RNA motifs and tRNAs. Through our mechanistic research we are developing predictive adverse outcome models that can be shared with our industrial partners, in particular we are working to understand the “off target” effects of new modalities such as therapeutic RNAs. In addition to her Unit programme, Anne holds a Wellcome Trust investigator award (jointly with Professor Kathryn Lilley in Biochemistry) to research into the processes that drive localised mRNA translation, a Wellcome Trust collaborative grant to study the role of mRNA translation elongation control in health and disease, with additional funding from BBSRC, Bloodwise and Cancer Research Technologies (as part of translational alliance with industry).
Dr Jana Alexandra, Veronica Dezi, Dr Stefano Grosso, Dr Rob Harvey, Dr Emilie Horvilleur, Dr Alberto Marini, Jashu Meisuria, Ryan Mordue, Tom Mulroney, Dr Tuija Poyry, Dr Vicky Pizzinga, Dr Ana Quintas, Dr Manasa Ramankrisna, Dr Liza Selly, Dr Mark Stoneley
There are three Postdoctoral positions and one studentship available in the Willis laboratory. Please contact Amanda Harris for further details (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Long-Fiber Carbon Nanotubes Replicate Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma with Disruption of the Tumor Suppressor Gene Cdkn2a (Ink4a/Arf)
Chernova T, Murphy FA, Galavotti S, Sun XM, Powley IR, Grosso S, Schinwald A, Zacarias-Cabeza J, Dudek KM, Dinsdale D, Le Quesne J, Bennett J, Nakas A, Greaves P, Poland CA, Donaldson K, Bushell M, Willis AE, MacFarlane M.
Curr Biol. 2017 Nov 6;27(21):3302-3314.e6.
RTN3 Is a Novel Cold-Induced Protein and Mediates Neuroprotective Effects of RBM3.
Bastide A, Peretti D, Knight JR, Grosso S, Spriggs RV, Pichon X, Sbarrato T, Roobol A, Roobol J, Vito D, Bushell M, von der Haar T, Smales CM, Mallucci GR, Willis AE.
Curr Biol. 2017 27:638-650.
A common polymorphism in the 5′ UTR of ERCC5 creates an upstream ORF that confers resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy.
Somers J, Wilson LA, Kilday JP, Horvilleur E, Cannell IG, Pöyry TA, Cobbold LC, Kondrashov A, Knight JR, Puget S, Grill J, Grundy RG, Bushell M, Willis AE.
Genes Dev. 29:1891-6.
RBM3 mediates structural plasticity and protective effects of cooling in neurodegeneration.
Peretti D, Bastide A, Radford H, Verity N, Molloy C, Martin MG, Moreno JA, Steinert JR, Willis AE, Mallucci GR.
Nature. 2015 Feb 12;518(7538):236-9.
mTORC1-mediated translational elongation limits intestinal tumour initiation and growth.
Faller WJ, Jackson TJ, Knight JR, Ridgway RA, Jamieson T, Karim SA, Jones C, Radulescu S, Huels DJ, Myant KB, Dudek KM, Casey HA, Scopelliti A, Cordero JB, Vidal M, Pende M, Ryazanov AG, Sononberg N, Meyuhas O, Hall MN, Bushell M, Willis AE, Sansom OJ.
Nature. 2015 Jan 22;517(7535):497-500.
A role for eukaryotic initiation factor 4B overexpression in the pathogenesis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma Leukemia.
Horvilleur E, Sbarrato T, Hill K, Screen M, Goodrem PJ, Spriggs RV, Sawicka K, Chaplin LC, Packham G, Potter N, Dirnhofer S, Tzankov A, Dyer MJS, Bushell M, MacFarlane M, Willis AE.
Leukemia. 2014 May;28(5):1092-102.
Remodelling of a polypyrimidine tract-binding protein complex during apoptosis activates cellular IRESs.
King HA, Cobbold LC, Pichon X, Pöyry T, Wilson LA, Booden H, Jukes-Jones R, Cain K, Lilley KS, Bushell M, Willis AE.
Cell Death Differ. 2014 Jan;21(1):161-71.
Translational repression and eIF4A2 activity are critical for microRNA-mediated gene regulation.
Meijer HA, Kong YW, Lu WT, Wilczynska A, Spriggs RV, Robinson SW, Godfrey JD, Willis AE, Bushell M.
Science. 2013 Apr 5;340(6128):82-5.
Translational regulation of gene expression during conditions of cell stress.
Spriggs KA, Bushell M, Willis AE.
Mol Cell. 2010 Oct 22;40(2):228-37.
Upregulated c-myc expression in multiple myeloma by internal ribosome entry results from increased interactions with and expression of PTB-1 and YB-1.
Cobbold LC, Wilson LA, Sawicka K, King HA, Kondrashov AV, Spriggs KA, Bushell M, Willis AE.
Oncogene. 2010 May 13;29(19):2884-91.
Translational reprogramming following UVB irradiation is mediated by DNA-PKcs and allows selective recruitment to the polysomes of mRNAs encoding DNA repair enzymes.
Powley IR, Kondrashov A, Young LA, Dobbyn HC, Hill K, Cannell IG, Stoneley M, Kong YW, Cotes JA, Smith GC, Wek R, Hayes C, Gant TW, Spriggs KA, Bushell M, Willis AE.
Genes Dev. 2009 May 15;23(10):1207-20.
Canonical initiation factor requirements of the Myc family of internal ribosome entry segments.
Spriggs KA, Cobbold LC, Jopling CL, Cooper RE, Wilson LA, Stoneley M, Coldwell MJ, Poncet D, Shen YC, Morley SJ, Bushell M, Willis AE.
Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Mar;29(6):1565-74.