Dr. Kapler received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Connecticut in 1979 and his Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard University in 1989, working with Stephen Beverley. He did his postdoctoral research with the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Elizabeth Blackburn, at the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 1994. Dr. Kapler is also a Member of Biochemistry and Biophysics and served as the chair of the Interdisciplinary Program in Genetics. In 2007 he was named Associate Department Head. In 2010 he was named Interim Departmental Chair. He has taught courses in medical genetics, yeast genetics, the cell cycle and chromosome biology.
Current research in chromosome biology is focused on understanding how trans-acting factors regulate replication initiation and the DNA damage checkpoint response. Work with the model eukaryote, Tetrahymena thermophila, has established new paradigms in the field. For example, recognition of the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) replication origin by the evolutionarily conserved, multi-subunit origin recognition complex (ORC) is mediated by a novel integral RNA subunit. This molecule, designated 26T RNA, corresponds to the 3’ end of 26S ribosomal RNA, and undergoes Watson-Crick base pairing with regulatory sequences at the rDNA origin. While 26T RNA is a component of all ORC complexes, it does not target ORC to other replication origins. This distinction may form the basis for the selective amplification of rDNA minichromosomes during development. Another rDNA binding factor, TIF1, prevents early firing of this replication origin. TIF1 mutants fail to trigger the DNA damage checkpoint response and exhibit gross genome instability, suggesting a more global role in chromosome homeostasis.