Rebecca Alexander

Rebecca Alexander

Contact Info


Professor, Associate Chair
Robert P. and Debra Lee Faculty Fellowship
F. M. Kirby Family Faculty Fellowship

B.S., University of Delaware, 1990, Honors
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 1996, (Barry S. Cooperman)
Postdoctoral Research Associate 1996-1997, MIT, (Paul Schimmel)
Postdoctoral Research Associate 1997-1999, The Scripps Research Institute, (Paul Schimmel)

Office: Salem 108
Phone: (336) 758-5568
Home Page:

Research Group

Alexander Research Group

Alexander Research Group

Alexander Research Group

Research Description

Description of Research
Our research program is primarily centered on understanding the mechanisms of protein synthesis.  Translation of a single protein from its nucleic acid precursor requires dozens of cellular components. Amino acids are assembled into polypeptides at the ribosome, a large ribonucleoprotein complex where the genetic message is decoded.  Individual proteins play essential roles in maintaining the accuracy of translation.  The aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases attach amino acids to transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules, thereby establishing the genetic code that dictates which amino acid matches which trinucleotide codon.  Other protein factors facilitate the three steps of translation: initiation, elongation, and termination.

Recent Publications

M.E. Budiman, U. Bierbach, and R.W. Alexander (2005) “DNA minor groove adducts formed by a platinum-acridine conjugate inhibit association of TATA-binding protein with its cognate sequence.” Biochemistry44, 11262-11268.

M.E. Budiman, R.W. Alexander, and U. Bierbach (2004) “Unique base-step recognition by a platinum-acridinylthiourea conjugate leads to a DNA damage profile complementary to that of the anticancer drug cisplatin.” Biochemistry43, 8560-8567.

R.W. Alexander, and K. Tamura (2004) “Peptide synthesis through evolution.” Cell. Mol. Life Sci.61, 1317-1330.

R.W. Alexander, and P. Schimmel (2001) “Domain-domain communication in aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases.” Prog. Nucl. Acid Res. Mol. Biol. 69, 317-349.

R.W. Alexander and P. Schimmel (2002) “Protein synthesis.” In Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology (Robert A. Myers, ed.)  3 rd ed., Vol. 13. Academic Press ( San Diego, CA), 219-240.

R.W. Alexander and P. Schimmel (2000) “Multifunctional proteins.” In McGraw-Hill 2001 Yearbook of Science & Technology, McGraw-Hill ( New York, NY), pp.265-266.

B. S. Cooperman, R. W. Alexander, Y. Bukhtiyarov, S. N. Vladimirov, Z. Druzina, R. Wang, and N. Zuno (2000) “Photolabile derivatives of oligonucleotides (PHONTs) as probes of ribosomal structure.” Methods Enzymol. 318, 118-136.

R.W. Alexander and P. Schimmel (1999)  “Evidence for breaking domain-domain functional communication in a synthetase-tRNA complex.” Biochemistry38, 16359-16365.

R. Wang, R.W. Alexander, M. van Loock, S. Vladimirov, Y. Bukhtiyarov, S.C. Harvey, and B.S. Cooperman (1999) “Three-dimensional placement of the conserved 530 loop of 16 S rRNA and of its neighboring components in the 30 S subunit.” J. Mol. Biol. 286, 521-540.

R.W. Alexander, B.E. Nordin, and P. Schimmel (1998) “Activation of microhelix charging by localized helix destabilization.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA95, 12214-12219.

P. Schimmel and R.W. Alexander (1998) “Diverse RNA substrates for aminoacylation: clues to origins?” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95, 10351-10353.

P. Schimmel and R.W. Alexander (1998) “All you need is RNA.” Science 281, 658-659.

Awards & Accomplishments

Robert P. and Debra Lee Faculty Fellowship 7/2008 – 8/2017
F. M. Kirby Family Faculty Fellowship, 7/2014 – 6/2017