Dr. Allan Rod Merrill

Dr. Allan Rod Merrill
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Phone number: 
53806 / 58163
SSC 2250
SSC 2204

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. Lugo MR, Ho D, Merrill AR. Resolving the 3D spatial orientation of helix I in the closed state of the colicin E1 channel domain by FRET. Insights into the integration mechanism. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2016 Oct 15; 608:52-73.
  2. Lyons B, Ravulapalli R, Lanoue J, Lugo MR, Dutta D, Carlin S, Merrill AR. Scabin, a Novel DNA-acting ADP-ribosyltransferase from Streptomyces scabies. J Biol Chem. 2016 May 20;291(21):11198-215.
  3. Ravulapalli R, Lugo MR, Pfoh R, Visschedyk D, Poole A, Fieldhouse RJ, Pai EF, Merrill AR. Characterization of Vis Toxin, a Novel ADP-Ribosyltransferase from Vibrio splendidus. Biochemistry. 2015 Sep 29;54(38):5920-36.
  4. Lugo MR, Merrill AR. The Father, Son and Cholix Toxin: The Third Member of the DT Group Mono-ADP-Ribosyltransferase Toxin Family. Toxins (Basel). 2015 Jul 24;7(8):2757-72.
  5. Lugo MR, Merrill AR. A comparative structure-function analysis of active-site inhibitors of Vibrio cholerae cholix toxin. J Mol Recognit. 2015 Sep;28(9):539-52.
  6. Lugo MR, Merrill AR. Pocket analysis of the full-length cholix toxin. An assessment of the structure-dynamics of the apo catalytic domain. J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2015;33(11):2452-68.
  7. Krska D, Ravulapalli R, Fieldhouse RJ, Lugo MR, Merrill AR. C3larvin toxin, an ADP-ribosyltransferase from Paenibacillus larvae. J Biol Chem. 2015 Jan 16;290(3):1639-53.


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

Lab Members

Graduate Students

  • Bronwyn Lyons
  • Chantal Wood
  • Olivier Tremblay

Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Dr. Miguel Lugo


  • Kayla Heney