Ann L. Beyer


  • BS, Centre College of Kentucky; Danville KY
  • PhD, Vanderbilt University; Nashville TN
  • Postdoc, University of Virginia

Primary Appointment

  • Professor, Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology


Research Interest(s)

Ribosomal RNA transcription & processing

Research Description

Current research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the basic cellular processes of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) transcription and ribosome biogenesis. We are interested in these questions because ribosome synthesis is strictly regulated and very tightly coupled to cell growth; it is up-regulated in cancer cells and thus is a target of some chemotherapies. We use an unusual electron microscopic approach called the Miller chromatin spreading method that allows us to directly visualize active rRNA genes. All of our studies are carried out in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In a typical approach, we first characterize parameters of interest in control cells and then compare them to the same parameters in cells with a genetic alteration of interest, such as depletion of a particular protein involved in the process being studied. This approach allows determination of the role of the protein in the process being studied. For study of transcriptional regulation, we analyze such parameters as the number of active rRNA genes in a nucleolus, transcription initiation and elongation rates for active genes, and chromatin structures correlated with various genetic activities. For the study of ribosome biogenesis, which begins while ribosomal RNA is being transcribed, we characterize structural details of early intermediates in small ribosomal subunit assembly that form on nascent transcripts. The type of data we obtain is very difficult to obtain using standard molecular biology approaches due to the multi-copy nature of rRNA genes and to the very short-lived nature of ribosome intermediates, but is very informative regarding molecular mechanism and structure. In recent studies (several cited below), we studied rRNA genes after significantly decreasing the number of rRNA genes per nucleolus, after interfering with the TOR signaling pathway, after depleting an RNA polymerase subunit, and after depletion of individual proteins essential for making ribosomes. Ongoing or planned studies are focusing on characterization of the composition of several short-lived intermediates in ribosome assembly, role of topoisomerases in rRNA transcription, role of chromatin structure and chromatin remodeling in rRNA transcription, and links between rRNA synthesis and nuclear export of ribosomal subunits.

Selected Publications

  • Axt K, French S, Beyer A, Tollervey D. Kinetic analysis demonstrates a requirement for the Rat1 exonuclease in cotranscriptional pre-rRNA cleavage. PloS one. 2014;9(2): e85703. PMID: 24498264 | PMCID: PMC3911906
  • Harris B, Bose T, Lee K, Wang F, Lu S, Ross R, Zhang Y, French S, Beyer A, Slaughter B, Unruh J, Gerton J. Cohesion promotes nucleolar structure and function. Molecular biology of the cell. 2013;25(3): 337-46. PMID: 24307683 | PMCID: PMC3907274
  • Johnson J, French S, Osheim Y, Li M, Hall L, Beyer A, Smith J. Rpd3- and spt16-mediated nucleosome assembly and transcriptional regulation on yeast ribosomal DNA genes. Molecular and cellular biology. 2013;33(14): 2748-59. PMID: 23689130 | PMCID: PMC3700123
  • Lebaron S, Segerstolpe A, French S, Dudnakova T, de Lima Alves F, Granneman S, Rappsilber J, Beyer A, Wieslander L, Tollervey D. Rrp5 Binding at Multiple Sites Coordinates Pre-rRNA Processing and Assembly. Molecular cell. 2013. PMID: 24239293 | PMCID: PMC3991325
  • Viktorovskaya O, Engel K, French S, Cui P, Vandeventer P, Pavlovic E, Beyer A, Kaplan C, Schneider D. Divergent contributions of conserved active site residues to transcription by eukaryotic RNA polymerases I and II. Cell reports. 2013;4(5): 974-84. PMID: 23994471 | PMCID: PMC3801175
  • Zhang Y, Anderson S, French S, Sikes M, Viktorovskaya O, Huband J, Holcomb K, Hartman J, Beyer A, Schneider D. The SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex influences transcription by RNA polymerase I in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. PloS one. 2013;8(2): e56793. PMID: 23437238 | PMCID: PMC3577654
  • French S, Sikes M, Hontz R, Osheim Y, Lambert T, El Hage A, Smith M, Tollervey D, Smith J, Beyer A. Distinguishing the roles of Topoisomerases I and II in relief of transcription-induced torsional stress in yeast rRNA genes. Molecular and cellular biology. 2010;31(3): 482-94. PMID: 21098118 | PMCID: PMC3028620