Merz, Alex

Faculty Profile

First Name: 
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[field_fname-formatted] [field_lname-formatted]
Associate Professor
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Office Location: 

J-357 Health Sciences Bldg

Office Phone: 
(206) 616-8308
Alternate Phone: 
(206) 543-9274
Lab Website: 

Research Summary: 

We seek to understand how the endolysosomal membrane system of eukaryotic cells is "wired" -- how it is organized, how it is regulated, and how its regulation is integrated with cellular metabolism.

We work at levels ranging from the whole organism to single molecules, and use yeast genetics, biochemistry, in vitro reconstitution, quantitative optical microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, electron microscopy, and electrophysiology. Our favorite model systems are budding yeast (S. cerevisiae) and nematode worm (C. elegans), but projects with other systems are possible. We emphasize the development of new assays and probes that allow us to explore new aspects of cell biology

Current projects include: 

  • Understanding the mechanisms of intracellular membrane fusion. How do the assembly dynamics of SNARE proteins and SNARE co-chaperones control and execute fusion events?
  • Explaining how organeles maintain their identity during transport — we seek to understand how compartments exhibit descrete identities and show little mixing or blending of character. How are intercompartmental boundaries enforced?
  • What are the roles of phosphoinositide lipids in the endosome-lysosome network?
  • How does the endolysosomal system participate in cellular stress responses and aging?

Our work is currently funded by the NIH and the American Cancer Society. 

Short Research Description: 
Organelle biogenesis and architecture; membrane traffic.
Areas of Interest: 
Cell Signaling & Cell/Environment Interactions
Developmental Biology, Stem Cells & Aging
Microbiology, Infection & Immunity
<p> Cell Biology and Cellular Architecture, Organelles, Metabolism, Genetics, Genomics, Membrane Structure and Function, Membrane Transport, Membranes, Signal Transduction, Electrophysiology, Fluorescence Spectroscopy</p>

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