The main research objective of Georges Mer, Ph.D. is to understand the formation of transient macromolecular complexes with a particular focus on the roles of post-translational modifications (PTMs) in regulating protein interactions and catalysis. Current studies in his laboratory concentrate on the DNA damage response, including DNA damage tolerance pathways, and the epigenetic transmission of information.
Dr. Mer and his colleagues approach problems from a structural biology perspective to address mechanistic questions. They use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and other biophysical and biochemical approaches to probe the structural, dynamic and thermodynamic properties of macromolecular assemblies.
- PTMs in the DNA damage response. Dr. Mer's team is interested in understanding how the concerted involvement of multiple PTMs (i.e., acetylation, ADP-ribosylation, methylation, phosphorylation, ubiquitylation) controls the assembly of protein complexes at DNA damage sites and how PTMs can function as molecular switches for protein activation or inactivation.
- Structure and function of histone chaperones. Histone chaperones contribute to the remodeling of chromatin during DNA replication, transcription and repair. Dr. Mer's team studies how PTMs in histones can regulate the association of histones with chaperones and how chaperones can alter the function of histone modifying enzymes.
- Protein dynamics. Related to the above projects, Dr. Mer and colleagues use NMR spectroscopy, small-angle X-ray scattering and calorimetry to probe how protein flexibility contributes to the specificity of molecular recognition.
Significance to patient care
Studies conducted in Dr. Mer's laboratory have relevance to a better understanding of cancer and neurological disorders, and to the development of new therapies.