Professional Profile

image for Mei, Wenyan

Mei, Wenyan

2001 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, IL 61802
3420 Vet Med. Basic Sciences Bldg
2001 S Lincoln
M/C 002
Urbana, IL  61802

show listOther campus affiliations

Faculty Affiliate, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology


  • BS, Sichuan University (Biology)
  • PhD, Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences  (Developmental Biology)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (Developmental Genetics)

Research Interests

The long-term goal of my lab is to understand how reciprocal interactions between the host and gut microbiota impact host health. Specifically, we are interested to address three questions:

  1. How is a mutualistic relationship between the host and gut microbiota established in the neonatal stage?
  2. How do disrupted host-gut microbiota interactions contribute to disease pathogenesis such as colitis and colorectal cancer?
  3. How can prebiotics and/or probiotics-based treatment be used to modulate the intestinal microbiota to improve host health?

To achieve this goal, we use both mouse and zebrafish as research model systems.

show listCurrent Projects

Mouse Projects

We generated a mouse hnRNP I model in which host-microbe interactions are disrupted in the neonatal stage, resulting in spontaneous colitis and early onset of colorectal cancer. We use this mouse model as a tool to study mechanisms that control host and gut microbiota interactions in the neonatal stage. Furthermore, we use this mouse model to identify alterations of gut microbiota that are associated with the risk of developing colitis-associated colorectal cancer, and to determine their contribution to colorectal carcinogenesis. Furthermore, we generated a tamoxifen-inducible knockout mouse model to investigate the role of hnRNP I in regulating stem cell-based intestinal homeostatis in adulthood.

Zebrafish Projects

We use zebrafish as an alternative model to study aspects of host-microbe interactions that are difficult to be assessed in mice. Specifically, we are interested to use zebrafish to study the impact of potentially disease-promoting microbes identified in colitis and colorectal cancer patients on the host innate immunity development. We are also interested to study how beneficial microbes impact host health through generating health-promoting metabolic products.

show listCourses Taught

VM603 – Gastrointestinal Physiology

VM603 – Gastrointestinal Histology

CB554 – Systems Toxicology: Gastrointestinal Toxicity

VCM656 – Principles of Laboratory Animal Science

Selected Publications

Jin, Z., Liang, F., Yang, J. & Mei, W. hnRNP I regulates neonatal immune adaptation and prevents colitis and colorectal cancer. PLoS genetics. 2017; 13(3):e1006672.

Mei W, Jin Z, Lai F, Schwend T, Houston DW, King ML, Yang J. Maternal Dead-End1 is required for vegetal cortical microtubule assembly during Xenopus axis specification. Development. 2013; 140(11):2334-44

Yang J, Chan C, Jiang B, Yu X, Zhu G, Chen Y, Barnard J, Mei W.  hnRNP l inhibits Notch signaling and regulates intestinal epithelial homeostasis in the zebrafish. PLoS Genetics. 2009; (209), 5(2): e1000363

Mei W, Lee KW, Marlow FL, Miller AL, Mullins MC, hnRNP l is required to generate the Ca2+ signal that causes egg activation in zebrafish. Development, (2009), 136(17): 3007-17.