Merrins Lab

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Matthew J. Merrins, PhDMatthew J. Merrins, PhD

Office: C4134A VA Hospital, 608-256-1901 x12848
Lab: C4140 VA Hospital (4th floor - C wing)

Dr Matthew Merrins
VA Research (151), Room C3127
2500 Overlook Terrace
Madison, WI 53705


Research in the Merrins laboratory centers on two features of nutrient metabolism in pancreatic islet beta cells, (1) the ability to trigger pulses of insulin release, and (2) the ability to trigger cell proliferation, when the demand for insulin increases (for example during obesity or pregnancy).  These adaptive responses to environmental stress ultimately fail in diabetes (neonatal, type 1, and type 2).  To understand how this occurs, we utilize rodent models of obesity/diabetes in combination with biochemistry, patch clamp electrophysiology, and quantitative imaging. A central focus of the lab is the use of fluorescence microscopy (FRET, FRAP, confocal and TIRF microscopy) to monitor biochemical reactions as they occur in living cells.  Our recent work – detailed in J Biol Chem. – describes novel biosensors useful for real-time measurements of glycolysis, as well as non-invasive optical approaches to study mitochondrial redox function.  Using these tools, we have been able to monitor metabolite production in a variety of cell types from yeast to human breast cancer cells. 

Specific interests of the laboratory include:

  • Understanding the bidirectional communication between glycolysis/mitochondria and the cell cycle machinery mediated by cyclin dependent kinases (CDKs) and their regulators.
  • Understanding the dynamics of cell-cell communication within the pancreatic islet (i.e. beta-alpha, beta-delta, alpha-delta) using simultaneous multi-color FRET and patch clamp. 
  • Development and utilization of novel optical probes to study metabolism, as well as optical tomography to assess pancreatic islet mass during obesity/diabetes progression. 

Research Positions

Postdoctoral, PhD students, MD students, Endocrinology Fellows and undergraduates interested in pursuing research in the Merrins lab should contact Dr. Merrins directly at

Support and Funding

The Merrins lab is supported by the NIH/NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders)

Recent Publications of Note

  • Merrins MJ, Van Dyke AR, Mapp AK, Rizzo MA, and Satin LS. (2013) Direct Measurements of Oscillatory Glycolysis in Pancreatic Islet Beta-cells Using Novel FRET Biosensors for Pyruvate Kinase M2 Activity.  J Biol Chem. 288(46): 33312-22.
  • Merrins MJ, Bertram R, Sherman A, Satin LS. (2012) Phosphofructo-2-kinase/Fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase Modulates Oscillations of Pancreatic Islet Metabolism.  PLoS One.  2012; 7(4): e34036.
  • Full PubMed List