Anita K. Hopper

The Ohio State University


Primary Section: 26, Genetics
Secondary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2021)

Biosketch

Dr. Anita K. Hopper is a yeast molecular geneticist known for her studies of RNA processing and subcellular trafficking. She received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Illinois, Chicago and a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University of Illinois, Urbana, followed by postdoctoral studies in Genetics at the University of Washington, Seattle. After her formal training, Dr. Hopper was an Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center (1975-1979) and then was recruited to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine (1979-2006) where she rose to the position of Distinguished Professor. In 2006, Dr. Hopper relocated to Ohio State University where she is Professor of Molecular Genetics. Dr. Hopper is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Hopper has served as Secretary of the Genetics Society of America and as President and as a member of the Board of the RNA Society. Dr. Hopper received Life-time Achievement in Service (2009) and Lifetime Achievement in Science (2015) awards from the RNA Society.

Research Interests

Dr. Anita K. Hopper investigates the cell biology and biogenesis of tRNAs. tRNAs are essential adaptors that decode the genome into the proteome and Dr. Hopper has sought to learn how tRNAs are processed and sorted to the correct subcellular location, at the correct time, and in response to appropriate environmental cues. The research employs the S. cerevisiae model system and genetics/genomics, cell biological, and in vivo biochemical approaches. Dr. Hopper’s early work identified the first eukaryotic gene products functioning in RNA biogenesis, including the RanGAP and the tRNA nuclear exportin. Her lab co-discovered the paradigm-shifting tRNA retrograde pathway by which cytoplasmic tRNAs reversibly accumulate in the nucleus, both in yeast and vertebrate cells. This pathway functions in tRNA quality control and regulation of protein synthesis. More recent genome-wide approaches discovered >140 novel proteins with roles in tRNA intron turnover, location of RNA processing enzymes to the mitochondrial surface, tRNA nuclear/cytoplasmic bidirectional movement, etc. The Hopper lab also investigates tRNA introns. The studies have uncovered multiple tRNA family-specific, stress-specific intron turnover pathways and extensive perfect complementary stretches of introns to particular mRNAs. Currently, the Hopper lab is investigating whether tRNA introns serve as novel small noncoding regulatory RNAs.

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