Contact Us

  • Alison Weiss, PhD
  • Professor of Molecular Genetics
  • Academic Office:
    Office 2254 Medical Sciences Building
    231 Albert Sabin Way
    Cincinnati, OH 45267
  • Phone: (513)558-2820
  • Email: alison.weiss@uc.edu

    Research Interests:

  • Whooping cough remains an unconquered disease, worldwide. Developing nations simply do not have the resources to vaccinate their children. Very little disease is seen in the United States, and this is entirely due to the use of the whole-cell vaccine. However, this situation could change rapidly if the population refused to except the current whole cell vaccine, a situation which occurred in Great Britain and Sweden, where concern about the safety of this vaccine has lead to a decline of its use, and a subsequent rise in disease. The current whole cell vaccine contains only whole killed bacteria. A component vaccine of known composition would be desirable. The problem in developing a new component vaccine is to define what is necessary and sufficient to induce a protective immune response. We have focussed our efforts on trying to understand the disease, hoping to develop a theoretical basis for vaccine development. A unique aspect of the biology of Bordetella pertussis makes it an ideal model system to study pathogenesis. All of the genes required for virulence perhaps 20, are coordinately expressed and regulated by the growth conditions. All are expressed at 37degrees C the temperature of the human host but not at 25 degrees C Also, high concentrationsof MgSO4 can repress the synthesis of the virulence genes at 37 degrees C. We have shown that one gene called vir for virulence-regulating acts as a positive transcriptional inducer for the expression of the virulence genes. We propose to identify thesegene products necessary for the virulent state and to study their role in the disease. Previously, mutants were identified using transposon Tn5 lac, a derivative of Tn5 which retains the transposition functions, kanamycin resistance, and a ''reporter'' gene, the gene for Beta- galactosidase Beta-gal, without a functional promoter. Expression of Beta-gal occurs only when Tn5 lac has inserted into a functional gene. Tn5 lac insertions in the vir-regulated genes of B pertussis were identified as kanamycin-resistant mutants that express Beta-gal when the vir-regulated genes are on, but not when the vir-regulated genes are off. In the current proposal we will continue to identify and characterize the virulence factors of Bordetella pertussis, both geneticallyand for their role in the disease.

    Education/Credentials:

  • A.B.: Washington University, 1975
  • M.S.: University of Washington, 1981
  • Ph.D.: Stanford University, 1983

Post Graduate Training/Education:

  • Postdoctoral Fellow
    1983-1985, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Peer Reviewed Publications (in chronological order):

  • Schneider, O. D., Millen, S. H., Weiss, A. A., & Miller, W. E. (2012). Mechanistic insight into pertussis toxin and lectin signaling using T cells engineered to express a CD8?/CD3? chimeric receptor. . Biochemistry , 51 (20) , 4126-37.
  • Gallegos, K. M., Conrady, D. G., Karve, S. S., Gunasekera, T. S., Herr, A. B., & Weiss, A. A. (2012). Shiga toxin binding to glycolipids and glycans. . PloS One , 7 (2) , e30368.
  • Archdeacon, M. T., Kazemi, N., Romanowski, J. R., Mobberley-Schuman, P. S., & Weiss, A. A. (2011). Reaming as an adjuvant to irrigation on bacterial presence and propagation: an open, cadaveric intramedullary fracture model. . Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma , 25 (6) , 325-30.
  • Fuller, C. A., Pellino, C. A., Flagler, M. J., Strasser, J. E., & Weiss, A. A. (2011). Shiga toxin subtypes display dramatic differences in potency. . Infection and Immunity , 79 (3) , 1329-37.
  • Conrady, D. G., Flagler, M. J., Friedmann, D. R., Vander Wielen, B. D., Kovall, R. A., Weiss, A. A., & Herr, A. B. (2010). Molecular basis of differential B-pentamer stability of Shiga toxins 1 and 2. . PloS One , 5 (12) , e15153.
  • Kulkarni, A. A., Weiss, A. A., & Iyer, S. S. (2010). Detection of carbohydrate binding proteins using magnetic relaxation switches. . Analytical Chemistry , 82 (17) , 7430-5.
  • Kulkarni, A. A., Fuller, C., Korman, H., Weiss, A. A., & Iyer, S. S. (2010). Glycan encapsulated gold nanoparticles selectively inhibit shiga toxins 1 and 2. . Bioconjugate Chemistry , 21 (8) , 1486-93.
  • Millen, S. H., Lewallen, D. M., Herr, A. B., Iyer, S. S., & Weiss, A. A. (2010). Identification and characterization of the carbohydrate ligands recognized by pertussis toxin via a glycan microarray and surface plasmon resonance. . Biochemistry , 49 (28) , 5954-67.
  • Flagler, M. J., Mahajan, S. S., Kulkarni, A. A., Iyer, S. S., & Weiss, A. A. (2010). Comparison of binding platforms yields insights into receptor binding differences between shiga toxins 1 and 2. . Biochemistry , 49 (8) , 1649-57.
  • Kulkarni, A. A., Weiss, A. A., & Iyer, S. S. (2010). Glycan-based high-affinity ligands for toxins and pathogen receptors. . Medicinal Research Reviews , 30 (2) , 327-93.
  • Schneider, O. D., Weiss, A. A., & Miller, W. E. (2009). Pertussis toxin signals through the TCR to initiate cross-desensitization of the chemokine receptor CXCR4. . Journal of Immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) , 182 (9) , 5730-9.
  • Conrady, D. G., Brescia, C. C., Horii, K., Weiss, A. A., Hassett, D. J., & Herr, A. B. (2008). A zinc-dependent adhesion module is responsible for intercellular adhesion in staphylococcal biofilms. . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 105 (49) , 19456-61.
  • Hatch, D. M., Weiss, A. A., Kale, R. R., & Iyer, S. S. (2008). Biotinylated bi- and tetra-antennary glycoconjugates for Escherichia coli detection. . Chembiochem : A European Journal of Chemical Biology , 9 (15) , 2433-42.
  • Taft, S. C., & Weiss, A. A. (2008). Toxicity of anthrax toxin is influenced by receptor expression. . Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI , 15 (9) , 1330-6.
  • Kale, R. R., McGannon, C. M., Fuller-Schaefer, C., Hatch, D. M., Flagler, M. J., Gamage, S. D., Weiss, A. A., & Iyer, S. S. (2008). Differentiation between structurally homologous Shiga 1 and Shiga 2 toxins by using synthetic glycoconjugates. . Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. in English) , 47 (7) , 1265-8.
  • Taft, S. C., & Weiss, A. A. (2008). Neutralizing activity of vaccine-induced antibodies to two Bacillus anthracis toxin components, lethal factor and edema factor. . Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI , 15 (1) , 71-5.
  • Schneider, O. D., Weiss, A. A., & Miller, W. E. (2007). Pertussis toxin utilizes proximal components of the T-cell receptor complex to initiate signal transduction events in T cells. . Infection and Immunity , 75 (8) , 4040-9.
  • Flagler, M. J., Strasser, J. E., Chalk, C. L., & Weiss, A. A. (2007). Comparative analysis of the abilities of Shiga toxins 1 and 2 to bind to and influence neutrophil apoptosis. . Infection and Immunity , 75 (2) , 760-5.
  • Watanabe, M., Connelly, B., & Weiss, A. A. (2006). Characterization of serological responses to pertussis. . Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI , 13 (3) , 341-8.
  • Gamage, S. D., Patton, A. K., Strasser, J. E., Chalk, C. L., & Weiss, A. A. (2006). Commensal bacteria influence Escherichia coli O157:H7 persistence and Shiga toxin production in the mouse intestine. . Infection and Immunity , 74 (3) , 1977-83.
  • Hanson, J. F., Taft, S. C., & Weiss, A. A. (2006). Neutralizing antibodies and persistence of immunity following anthrax vaccination. . Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI , 13 (2) , 208-13.
  • Mobberley-Schuman, P. S., & Weiss, A. A. (2005). Influence of CR3 (CD11b/CD18) expression on phagocytosis of Bordetella pertussis by human neutrophils. . Infection and Immunity , 73 (11) , 7317-23.
  • Weiss, A. A., Patton, A. K., Millen, S. H., Chang, S., Ward, J. I., & Bernstein, D. I. (2004). Acellular pertussis vaccines and complement killing of Bordetella pertussis. . Infection and Immunity , 72 (12) , 7346-51.
  • Gamage, S. D., Patton, A. K., Hanson, J. F., & Weiss, A. A. (2004). Diversity and host range of Shiga toxin-encoding phage. . Infection and Immunity , 72 (12) , 7131-9.
  • Schaeffer, L. M., McCormack, F. X., Wu, H., & Weiss, A. A. (2004). Interactions of pulmonary collectins with Bordetella bronchiseptica and Bordetella pertussis lipopolysaccharide elucidate the structural basis of their antimicrobial activities. . Infection and Immunity , 72 (12) , 7124-30.
  • Gamage, S. D., McGannon, C. M., & Weiss, A. A. (2004). Escherichia coli serogroup O107/O117 lipopolysaccharide binds and neutralizes Shiga toxin 2. . Journal of Bacteriology , 186 (16) , 5506-12.
  • Schaeffer, L. M., McCormack, F. X., Wu, H., & Weiss, A. A. (2004). Bordetella pertussis lipopolysaccharide resists the bactericidal effects of pulmonary surfactant protein A. . Journal of Immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) , 173 (3) , 1959-65.
  • Millen, S. H., Bernstein, D. I., Connelly, B., Ward, J. I., Chang, S., & Weiss, A. A. (2004). Antibody-mediated neutralization of pertussis toxin-induced mitogenicity of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. . Infection and Immunity , 72 (1) , 615-20.
  • Rambow-Larsen, A. A., & Weiss, A. A. (2004). Temporal expression of pertussis toxin and Ptl secretion proteins by Bordetella pertussis. . Journal of Bacteriology , 186 (1) , 43-50.
  • Gamage, S. D., Strasser, J. E., Chalk, C. L., & Weiss, A. A. (2003). Nonpathogenic Escherichia coli can contribute to the production of Shiga toxin. . Infection and Immunity , 71 (6) , 3107-15.
  • Mobberley-Schuman, P. S., Connelly, B., & Weiss, A. A. (2003). Phagocytosis of Bordetella pertussis incubated with convalescent serum. . The Journal of Infectious Diseases , 187 (10) , 1646-53.
  • Barnes, M. G., & Weiss, A. A. (2003). Activation of the complement cascade by Bordetella pertussis. . FEMS Microbiology Letters , 220 (2) , 271-5.
  • Stenson, T. H., Patton, A. K., & Weiss, A. A. (2003). Reduced glutathione is required for pertussis toxin secretion by Bordetella pertussis. . Infection and Immunity , 71 (3) , 1316-20.
  • Rambow-Larsen, A. A., & Weiss, A. A. (2002). The PtlE protein of Bordetella pertussis has peptidoglycanase activity required for Ptl-mediated pertussis toxin secretion. . Journal of Bacteriology , 184 (11) , 2863-9.
  • Stenson, T. H., & Weiss, A. A. (2002). DsbA and DsbC are required for secretion of pertussis toxin by Bordetella pertussis. . Infection and Immunity , 70 (5) , 2297-303.
  • Barnes, M. G., & Weiss, A. A. (2002). Growth phase influences complement resistance of Bordetella pertussis. . Infection and Immunity , 70 (1) , 403-6.
  • Schaeffer, L. M., & Weiss, A. A. (2001). Pertussis toxin and lipopolysaccharide influence phagocytosis of Bordetella pertussis by human monocytes. . Infection and Immunity , 69 (12) , 7635-41.
  • Barnes, M. G., & Weiss, A. A. (2001). BrkA protein of Bordetella pertussis inhibits the classical pathway of complement after C1 deposition. . Infection and Immunity , 69 (5) , 3067-72.
  • Weingart, C. L., Keitel, W. A., Edwards, K. M., & Weiss, A. A. (2000). Characterization of bactericidal immune responses following vaccination with acellular pertussis vaccines in adults. . Infection and Immunity , 68 (12) , 7175-9.
  • Weingart, C. L., Mobberley-Schuman, P. S., Hewlett, E. L., Gray, M. C., & Weiss, A. A. (2000). Neutralizing antibodies to adenylate cyclase toxin promote phagocytosis of Bordetella pertussis by human neutrophils. . Infection and Immunity , 68 (12) , 7152-5.
  • Craig-Mylius, K. A., & Weiss, A. A. (2000). Antibacterial agents and release of periplasmic pertussis toxin from Bordetella pertussis. . Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy , 44 (5) , 1383-6.
  • Weingart, C. L., & Weiss, A. A. (2000). Bordetella pertussis virulence factors affect phagocytosis by human neutrophils. . Infection and Immunity , 68 (3) , 1735-9.
  • Craig-Mylius, K. A., Stenson, T. H., & Weiss, A. A. (2000). Mutations in the S1 subunit of pertussis toxin that affect secretion. . Infection and Immunity , 68 (3) , 1276-81.
  • Lenz, D. H., Weingart, C. L., & Weiss, A. A. (2000). Phagocytosed Bordetella pertussis fails to survive in human neutrophils. . Infection and Immunity , 68 (2) , 956-9.
  • Craig-Mylius, K. A., & Weiss, A. A. (1999). Mutants in the ptlA-H genes of Bordetella pertussis are deficient for pertussis toxin secretion. . FEMS Microbiology Letters , 179 (2) , 479-84.
  • Weingart, C. L., Broitman-Maduro, G., Dean, G., Newman, S., Peppler, M., & Weiss, A. A. (1999). Fluorescent labels influence phagocytosis of Bordetella pertussis by human neutrophils. . Infection and Immunity , 67 (8) , 4264-7.
  • Weiss, A. A., Mobberley, P. S., Fernandez, R. C., & Mink, C. M. (1999). Characterization of human bactericidal antibodies to Bordetella pertussis. . Infection and Immunity , 67 (3) , 1424-31.
  • Rambow, A. A., Fernandez, R. C., & Weiss, A. A. (1998). Characterization of BrkA expression in Bordetella bronchiseptica. . Infection and Immunity , 66 (8) , 3978-80.
  • Fernandez, R. C., & Weiss, A. A. (1998). Serum resistance in bvg-regulated mutants of Bordetella pertussis. . FEMS Microbiology Letters , 163 (1) , 57-63.
  • Fernandez, R. C., & Weiss, A. A. (1996). Susceptibilities of Bordetella pertussis strains to antimicrobial peptides. . Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy , 40 (4) , 1041-3.
  • Fernandez, R. C., & Weiss, A. A. (1995). Cloning and sequencing of the Bordetella pertussis cpn10/cpn60 (groESL) homolog. . Gene , 158 (1) , 151-2.
  • Fernandez, R. C., & Weiss, A. A. (1994). Cloning and sequencing of a Bordetella pertussis serum resistance locus. . Infection and Immunity , 62 (11) , 4727-38.
  • Walker, K. E., & Weiss, A. A. (1994). Characterization of the dermonecrotic toxin in members of the genus Bordetella. . Infection and Immunity , 62 (9) , 3817-28.
  • Hewlett, E. L., Gray, M. C., Ehrmann, I. E., Maloney, N. J., Otero, A. S., Gray, L., Allietta, M., Szabo, G., Weiss, A. A., & Barry, E. M. (1993). Characterization of adenylate cyclase toxin from a mutant of Bordetella pertussis defective in the activator gene, cyaC. . The Journal of Biological Chemistry , 268 (11) , 7842-8.
  • Ehrmann, I. E., Weiss, A. A., Goodwin, M. S., Gray, M. C., Barry, E., & Hewlett, E. L. (1992). Enzymatic activity of adenylate cyclase toxin from Bordetella pertussis is not required for hemolysis. . FEBS Letters , 304 (1) , 51-6.
  • Barry, E. M., Weiss, A. A., Ehrmann, I. E., Gray, M. C., Hewlett, E. L., & Goodwin, M. S. (1991). Bordetella pertussis adenylate cyclase toxin and hemolytic activities require a second gene, cyaC, for activation. . Journal of Bacteriology , 173 (2) , 720-6.
  • Stibitz, S., Weiss, A. A., & Falkow, S. (1988). Genetic analysis of a region of the Bordetella pertussis chromosome encoding filamentous hemagglutinin and the pleiotropic regulatory locus vir. . Journal of Bacteriology , 170 (7) , 2904-13.
  • Pearson, R. D., Symes, P., Conboy, M., Weiss, A. A., & Hewlett, E. L. (1987). Inhibition of monocyte oxidative responses by Bordetella pertussis adenylate cyclase toxin. . Journal of Immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) , 139 (8) , 2749-54.
  • Cronin, M. J., Evans, W. S., Rogol, A. D., Weiss, A. A., Thorner, M. O., Orth, D. N., Nicholson, W. E., Yasumoto, T., & Hewlett, E. L. (1986). Prokaryotic adenylate cyclase toxin stimulates anterior pituitary cells in culture. . The American Journal of Physiology , 251 (2 Pt 1) , E164-71.
  • Weiss, A. A., & Hewlett, E. L. (1986). Virulence factors of Bordetella pertussis. . Annual Review of Microbiology , 40 , 661-86.
  • Steinman, L., Weiss, A., Adelman, N., Lim, M., Zuniga, R., Oehlert, J., Hewlett, E., & Falkow, S. (1985). Pertussis toxin is required for pertussis vaccine encephalopathy. . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 82 (24) , 8733-6.
  • Steinman, L., Weiss, A., Adelman, N., Lim, M., Oehlert, J., Zuniga, R., Hewlett, E., & Falkow, S. (1985). Murine model for pertussis vaccine encephalopathy: role of the major histocompatibility complex; antibody to albumin and to Bordetella pertussis and pertussis toxin. . Developments in Biological Standardization , 61 , 439-46.
  • Weiss, A. A., Hewlett, E. L., Myers, G. A., & Falkow, S. (1985). Genetic studies of the molecular basis of whooping cough. . Developments in Biological Standardization , 61 , 11-9.
  • Hewlett, E. L., Weiss, A. A., Crane, J. K., Pearson, R. D., Anderson, H. J., Myers, G. A., Evans, W. S., Hantske, L. L., Kay, H. D., & Cronin, M. J. (1985). Bordetella extracytoplasmic adenylate cyclase: actions as a bacterial toxin. . Developments in Biological Standardization , 61 , 21-6.
  • Weiss, A. A., Hewlett, E. L., Myers, G. A., & Falkow, S. (1984). Pertussis toxin and extracytoplasmic adenylate cyclase as virulence factors of Bordetella pertussis. . The Journal of Infectious Diseases , 150 (2) , 219-22.
  • Weiss, A. A., & Falkow, S. (1984). Genetic analysis of phase change in Bordetella pertussis. . Infection and Immunity , 43 (1) , 263-9.
  • Weiss, A. A., Hewlett, E. L., Myers, G. A., & Falkow, S. (1983). Tn5-induced mutations affecting virulence factors of Bordetella pertussis. . Infection and Immunity , 42 (1) , 33-41.
  • Weiss, A. A., & Falkow, S. (1983). Transposon insertion and subsequent donor formation promoted by Tn501 in Bordetella pertussis. . Journal of Bacteriology , 153 (1) , 304-9.
  • Weiss, A. A., & Falkow, S. (1982). Plasmid transfer to Bordetella pertussis: conjugation and transformation. . Journal of Bacteriology , 152 (1) , 549-52.

    Research Grants:

  • T32 AI055406 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Training in Biological Threat Agents, PI, Closed.
  • 26020/5-30226 / U54 AI57153 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Antibody Neutralization of Anthrax Toxin, PI, Closed.
  • R01 AI064893 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Shiga Toxin Production and Role in Pathogenesis, PI, Active.
  • CHMC 499 / U38 CCU522352 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Role of Filamentous Hemagglutinin (FHA) in Disease and Protection from Pertussis, PI, Closed.
  • 5-R21-AI-054762-02-A0-S0-E0 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Shiga Toxin Encoding Phage and Intestinal E. Coli, PI, Closed.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Evaluation of Control Measures Against Infectious Diseases Other than AIDS, PI, Closed.
  • 5-R01-AI-45715-05-A0-S0-E0 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Human Serum and Protection Against Bordetella Pertussis, PI, Closed.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Biogenesis of Pertussis Toxin, PI, Closed.
  • 5-R01-AI-23695-14-A0-S0-E0 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Characterization of the Pertussis Toxin Secretion Operon, PI, Closed.
  • 5-R01-AI-38415-04-A0-S0-E0 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Complement Resistance in Bordetella Pertussis, PI, Closed.
  • U01 AI075498 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Glycoconjugate Based Diagnostics for Bacterical Toxins, PI, Active.
  • R56 AI023695 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Biologic Activities of the Pertusis Toxin B-Pentamer, PI, Closed.
  • 2 R01 AI023695-20A1 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Biologic Activities of the Pertusis Toxin B-Pentamer, PI, Active.
  • R01 AI089450 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Glycan Receptor Mimics for Rapid Detection, Typing, and Susceptibility Testing of Influenza, PI, Active.
  • SRS 006920 Department of Energy. ORISE, PI, Closed.