Tamara Hendrickson

Tamara Hendrickson

Associate Professor


313-577-8822 (fax)


Chem 365



Social media


Tamara Hendrickson



Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • indirect tRNA aminoacylation, accuracy mechanisms in protein biosynthesis, membrane proteins, protein-protein interactions, enzyme kinetics, diversity in STEM, women in STEM


Our research group uses a multidisciplinary approach to investigate indirect tRNA aminoacylation pathways in pathogenic bacteria. We draw on techniques from biochemistry, biophysical chemistry, and molecular and microbiology in order to understand these complex macromolecular processes.

Indirect tRNA Aminoacylation
There are twenty proteinaceous amino acids that are commonly used by all organisms. In most cases, including humans, yeast, and E. coli, there are twenty aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, with one enzyme responsible for attaching each encoded amino acid to the correct tRNA(s). However, in many organisms glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase and asparaginyl-tRNA synthetase (GlnRS and AsnRS, respectively) are missing. In these cases, the corresponding aminoacyl-tRNAs, Gln-tRNAGln and Asn-tRNAAsn, are made indirectly via transamidation of Glu-tRNAGln and Asp-tRNAAsn. This biosynthetic pathway requires the presence of two misacylating AARSs and a glutamine-dependent amidotransferase (Adt).

We are investigating the indirect biosynthesis of Gln-tRNAGln and Asn-tRNAAsn in  pathogenic bacteria, including H. pylori and S. aureus We are interested in understanding the evolution of direct versus indirect tRNA aminoacylation pathways as well as the mechanisms that are used by H. pylori to prevent misacylated tRNAs from entering the ribosome prior to conversion to their accurately aminoacylated counterpoints. 




  • B. A., Wellesley College, 1990
  • Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1996
  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1996-1997
  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, The Scripps Research Institute, 1997-2000

Awards and grants

  • 2018-2019 Drexel ELATE Fellow

    2015-2016 WSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award

    2011 Chair and Host, 2011 International Conference on Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases

    2009-2010 WSU Career Development Chair Award

    2007 American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award

    2000 Research Corporation Innovation Award

Selected publications

Hendrickson, T. L. "Old enzymes versus new herbicides." 2018, J. Biol. Chem., 293, 7892-7893.

Zhao, L., Rathnayake, U. M., Dewage, S. W., Wood, W. N., Veltri, A. J., Cisneros, G. A., Hendrickson, T. L. "Characterization of tunnel mutants reveals a catalytic step in ammonia delivery by an aminoacyl-tRNA amidotransferase." 2016, Febs Lett. 590, 3122-3132.

Hendrickson, T. L. "Integrating responsible conduct of research education into undergraduate biochemistry and molecular biology laboratory curricula." 2015, Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ., 43, 68-75.

Gamage, D. G., Hendrickson, T. L. "GPI transamidase and GPI anchored proteins: oncogenes and biomarkers for cancer." 2013, Crit. Rev. Biochem. Mol. Biol., 48, 446-464.

Silva, G. N., Fatma, S., Floyd, A. M., Fischer, F., Chuawong, P., Cruz, A. N., Simari, R. M., Joshi, N., Kern, D., Hendrickson, T. L. "A tRNA-independent mechanism for transamidsome assembly promotes aminoacyl-tRNA transamidation." 2013, J. Biol. Chem., 288, 3816-3822.

Currently teaching

  • CHM 5600, Survey of Biochemistry, 3 credit hours, F2020

    CHM 7600, Structure and Function of Biomolecules, 3 credit hours, F2020

    CHM 6740, Chemical Safety, 1 credit hour, F2020


Courses taught

CHM 5600/7600 Survey of Biochemistry, 3 credit hours, F2019

CHM 6635/7635 Tools in Molecular Biology, 3 credit hours, W2019

CHM 2220 Organic Chemistry II, 4 credit hours, F2018
CHM 2225 Organic Chemistry II for Engineers, 3 credit hours, F2018
CHM 6635 Tools in Molecular Biology, 3 credit hours, W2018