My interest in biology derives from having spent most of my summers growing up in, or on, the waters surrounding Tobermory, Ontario. These interests led me to study marine biology at the University of Guelph where I became fascinated by the biochemical and physiological adaptations that allow animals to live under extreme environments. I completed an MSc with Dr. Jim Ballantyne at Guelph looking at temperature adaptation in gill mitochondrial membranes from Arctic and temperate marine bivalves. My PhD, with Dr. Glen Tibbits at Simon Fraser University, focused upon the mechanisms that enable cardiac function in trout at their comparatively low physiological temperature. This work specifically focused on the structure-function relationships of a protein called troponin C that enable it to work at low temperatures. As a NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Mike Regnier in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, I worked on a variety of projects looking at the thin filament regulatory proteins and their role in controlling cardiac contractility. Here at Guelph my research program is focused upon the vertebrate heart and the mechanisms that regulate its function. The underlying theme of this work is the evolution of protein structure and function and the role this plays in determining the physiological scope of organisms.
B.Sc. - Guelph 1994
M.Sc. - Guelph 1996
Ph.D. - Simon Fraser University 2002
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington 2002-2005
My research program utilizes a comparative approach to examine the cellular mechanisms underpinning cardiac function in vertebrates and how these can be modified to manipulate physiological capability. Specific questions being addressed include:
How has the regulation of muscle contraction evolved?
What are the molecular mechanisms underlying the remodeling capacity of the fish heart?
How does the hagfish heart keep working during prolonged periods of anoxia?
What are the consequences of bitumen exposure on the development and function of the salmonid heart?
Johnston EF, Cadonic IG, Craig PM, Gillis TE. (2019) microRNA-29b knocks down collagen type I production in cultured rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) cardiac fibroblasts. Journal of Experimental Biology, doi: 10.1242/jeb.202788. PMID: 31439649
Ding Y, Lyons SA, Scott GR, Gillis TE. (2019) Characterizing the influence of chronic hypobaric hypoxia on diaphragmatic myofilament contractile function and phosphorylation in high-altitude deer mice and low-altitude white-footed mice.Journal of Comparative Physiology B. doi: 10.1007/s00360-019-01224-w. PMID: 31278612
Alderman SL, Crossley DA 2nd, Elsey RM, Gillis TE. (2019) Hypoxia-induced reprogramming of the cardiac phenotype in American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) revealed by quantitative proteomics. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45023-3. PMID:31197188
Gatrell, L. A., Farhat, E., Pyle, W. G., & Gillis, T. E. (2019). Contractile function of the excised hagfish heart during anoxia exposure. Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical Systemic and Environmental Physiology., doi: 10.1007/s00360-019-01208-w.
Johnston, E. F., & Gillis, T. (2018). Transforming growth factor-β1 induces differentiation of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) cardiac fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. Journal of Experimental Biology, 221., doi: 10.1242/jeb.189167.
Schorno, S., Gillis, T., & Fudge, D. (2018). Cellular mechanisms of slime gland refilling in Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii). Journal of Experimental Biology, 221.
Alderman, S., Lin, F., Gillis, T., Farrell, A., & Kennedy, C. (2018). Developmental and latent effects of diluted bitumen exposure on early life stages of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Aquatic Toxicology.
Schorno*, S., Gillis, T. E., & Fudge, D. S. (2018). Emptying and Refilling of Slime Glands in Atlantic (Myxine glutinosa) and Pacific (Eptatretus stoutii) Hagfishes. Journal of Experimental Biology., doi: PMID:29487153.
Ojehomon*, M., Alderman, S., Sandu*, L., Sutcliffe*, S., Van Ray, T., Gillis, T., Dawson, J.F. (2018). Identification of the actc1c cardiac actin gene in zebrafish. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology.
Avey*, S. R., Ojehomon*, M., Dawson, J. F., & Gillis, T. E. (2017). How the expression of green fluorescent protein and human cardiac actin in the heart influences cardiac function and aerobic performance in Zebrafish (Danio rerio). Journal of Fish Biology, 92 (1), 177-189, doi: 10.1111/jfb.13507
Dindia, L., Alderman, S. L., & Gillis, T. E. (2017). Data for iTRAQ-based quantification of the cardiac proteome of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) at rest and with exercise training. Data in Brief, 10, 32-36, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2017.05.016.
Foster*, A. J., Arkell*, A. M., Platt*, M. J., Huber, J. S., Romanova, N., Wright, D.C., Gillis, T.E., Murrant, C.L., Brunt, K.R. and Simpson, J.A.C (2017). Central-acting therapeutics alleviate Eif2α-mediated respiratory weakness caused by heart failure-induced ventilatory overdrive. Science Translational Medicine., doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1303.
Dindia, L., Alderman, S. L., & Gillis, T. (2017). Novel insights into cardiac remodeling revealed by proteomic analysis of the trout heart during exercise training. Journal of Proteomics., doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jprot.2017.03.023.
Alderman, S. L., Dindia, L. A., Kennedy, C. J., Farrell, A. P., & Gillis, T. E. (2017). Proteomic analysis of sockeye salmon serum reveals biomarkers of diluted bitumen exposure and impaired swimming performance. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part D: Genomics and Proteomics., doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbd.2017.04.003.
Johnston*, E. F., & Gillis, T. E. (2017). Transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-β1) stimulates collagen deposition into the extracellular matrix of cultured rainbow trout cardiac fibroblasts. Journal of Experimental Biology., doi: 10.1242/jeb.160093.
Gillis, T.E. Evolution of the regulatory control of the vertebrate heart; the role of the contractile proteins. Book chapter in Ontogeny and Phylogeny of the vertebrate heart. Springer, Tobias Wang Editor. (2012)