A cell constantly alters the expression of its genes (and thus the proteins it makes) in order to respond to its environment or change its function. Gene expression can be modulated at many levels, from the birth of a messenger RNA (mRNA) to its destruction. Once it enters the cytoplasm, an mRNA can have various fates? it can be translated, translationally repressed, or degraded. The function of the mRNA is dictated by the proteins that associate with it to form an mRNP (mRNA-protein complex). For example, a translating mRNA associates with the ribosome, which will use the mRNA to make a protein. Alternatively, a non-translating mRNA associates with translational repressors or decay factors that sequester the mRNA from the ribosome or destroy the mRNA. The mRNP composition is dynamic, which allows the mRNA to move among translation, storage, or decay complexes. Dr. Hilliker's lab studies how mRNPs alter their composition to change the translatability of the mRNA. She uses budding yeast and a combination of genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry to understand how a cell determines the fate of an mRNA. This type of regulation of translation is important in all cells, but is especially important early in development, during stress, and in learning and memory.
* denotes undergraduate coauthors
Kindsfather, A.J.*, Rothbard, N.R.*, Winters, A.*, Robins, S.W.*, Fronek, L.*, and Hilliker, A. K. (estimated 2016) Hat1, a lysine acetyltransferase, affects RNA storage granules. Under review atG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. July 2016.
Gao, Z., Putnam, A.A., Bowers, H.A., Guenther, U.P., Ye, X., Kindsfather, A.*, Hilliker, A.K. and Jankowsky, E. (2016) Coupling between the DEAD-box helicases Ded1p and eIF4A. eLife 2016;10.7554/eLife.16408
Hooper, C.* and Hilliker, A.K. (2013) RNA helicases in cytoplasmic granules. Part of a special issue on RNA helicases in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA). Under review.
Gallon, J.* and Hilliker, A.K. (2013) Control of gene expression through regulation of cytoplasmic mRNA. Encyclopedia of Molecular Life Sciences. Published by Springer. Under revision.
Khan, S.* and Hilliker, A.K. (2012) The Role of Chromatin Remodeling and DNA Modification in Transcriptional Regulation. Encyclopedia of Molecular Life Sciences. Published by Springer. In press.
Hilliker, A.K. (2012) Analysis of RNA helicases in P-bodies and stress granules. Methods in Enzymology, 511: 323-46.
Hilliker, A. K., Gao, Z., Jankowsky, E., and Parker, R.R. (2010) The DEAD-box protein Ded1 modulates translation by the formation and resolution of an eIF4F-mRNA complex. In press at Molecular Cell.
Hilliker, A. and Parker, R. (2008) Stressed out? Make some modifications! Nat Cell Biol, 10(10): 1129-1130.
Beckham, C., Hilliker, A., Cziko, A.M., Noueiry, A., Ramaswami, M., and Parker, R. (2008) The DEAD-Box RNA Helicase Ded1p Affects and Accumulates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae P-Bodies. Mol Biol Cell, 19: 984-993.
Hilliker, A. K., Mefford, M. A., and Staley, J. P. (2007) U2 toggles iteratively between the stem IIa and stem IIc conformations to promote pre-mRNA splicing. Genes and Development, 7: 821-834.
Hilliker, A. K. and Staley, J. P. (2004) Multiple functions for the invariant AGC triad of U6 snRNA. RNA, 10: 921-928.
Burkeen, A. K., Maday, S. L., Rybicka, K. K., Sulcove, J.A., Ward, J., Huang, M. M., Barstead, R., Franzini-Armstrong, C. and T. StC. Allen. (2004) Disruption of Caenorhabditis elegans Muscle Structure and Function Caused by Mutation of Troponin I. Biophysical Journal, 86: 991-1001.
Ph.D., University of Chicago 2006
Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology
B.A., Oberlin College 1999