Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology Faculty. Dr. Allan Rod Merrill

Dr. Rod Merrill


Office: SSC 2250
Ext: 53806
Lab: SSC 2204
Ext: 58163

Merrill Lab Website


I was raised on a farm in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Southern Alberta where I learned how to work and also how to solve problems, and to fix just about anything. I have loved science since my days as a grade school student, when I realized that I would rather be a scientist than a farmer. I obtained my undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge in Organic Chemistry and then I pursued graduate work at the University of Ottawa/National Research Council with Professor Arthur G. Szabo, where I developed a keen interest in the application of optical spectroscopy to study protein structure and function. I subsequently tendered an NSERC PDF award to conduct Postdoctoral research work at Purdue University (Indiana) where I furthered my training in Biophysics and I learned protein crystallography and membrane biochemistry. I get my euphoric highs and hence my motivation to continue through the research garden of life from the seemingly small, but important discoveries that are the privilege of scientific researchers. I am addicted to science. I love to talk, walk, and live scientific research. I draw kinetic energy from seeing the “light” turned on within the souls of students, both undergraduate and graduate, who catch a moonbeam of pure knowledge as I share my experience, wisdom and insight with them.

The philosophy of my research program is to use biophysical and biochemical techniques to study the structure and dynamic properties of both membrane and soluble proteins. The systems that we have chosen for study involve bacterial diseases and our approach is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms whereby virulence factors facilitate the disease process.


B.Sc. Lethbridge
Ph.D. Ottawa


My research is in the general area of protein structure and dynamics and is specifically focused on the biochemistry of bacterial toxins involved in disease and consists of the following projects:

  • Membrane structure of the colicin E1 ion channel
  • Data mining and bioinformatics of bacterial virulence factors
  • Optical spectroscopic approaches to study protein structure and dynamics
  • Enzyme reaction mechanism of the bacterial mono-ADP-ribosyltransferase family
  • Inhibition mechanisms and structural complexes of toxins with inhibitors
  • X-ray structures of protein-protein complexes involving toxins

Selected Publications

  1. Ho D, Lugo MR, Merrill AR. Harmonic analysis of the fluorescence response of bimane adducts of colicin E1 at helices 6, 7 and 10. J Biol Chem. 2013 15;288(7):5136-48.
  2. Visschedyk D, Rochon A, Tempel W, Dimov S, Park HW, Merrill AR. Certhrax toxin, an anthrax-related ADP-ribosyltransferase from Bacillus cereus. J Biol Chem. 2012 Nov 30;287(49):41089-102.
  3. Shniffer A, Visschedyk DD, Ravulapalli R, Suarez G, Turgeon ZJ, Petrie AA, Chopra AK, Merrill AR. Characterization of an actin-targeting ADP-ribosyltransferase from Aeromonas hydrophila. J Biol Chem. 2012 Oct 26;287(44):37030-41.
  4. Fieldhouse RJ, Jörgensen R, Lugo MR, Merrill AR. The 1.8 Å cholix toxin crystal structure in complex with NAD+ and evidence for a new kinetic model. J Biol Chem. 2012 Jun 15;287(25):21176-88.
  5. Ho D, Lugo MR, Lomize AL, Pogozheva ID, Singh SP, Schwan AL, Merrill AR. Membrane topology of the colicin E1 channel using genetically encoded fluorescence. Biochemistry. 2011 Jun 7;50(22):4830-42.
  6. Turgeon Z, Jörgensen R, Visschedyk D, Edwards PR, Legree S, McGregor C, Fieldhouse RJ, Mangroo D, Schapira M, Merrill AR. Newly discovered and characterized antivirulence compounds inhibit bacterial mono-ADP-ribosyltransferase toxins. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Mar;55(3):983-91.
  7. Fieldhouse RJ, Turgeon Z, White D, Merrill AR. Cholera- and anthrax-like toxins are among several new ADP-ribosyltransferases. PLoS Comput Biol. 2010 Dec 9;6(12):e1001029.
  8. Visschedyk DD, Perieteanu AA, Turgeon ZJ, Fieldhouse RJ, Dawson JF, Merrill AR. Photox, a novel actin-targeting mono-ADP-ribosyltransferase from Photorhabdus luminescens. J Biol Chem. 2010 Apr 30;285(18):13525-34.


BIOC*4540 Enzymology
BIOC*3560 Structure and Function in Biochemistry

Lab Members

Graduate Students

Amanda Poole

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Debajyoti Dutta
Dr. Miguel Lugo
Dr. Ravi Ravulapalli


Tom Keeling
Daniel Krska