San Diego State University

Terry Frey

Professor and Chair

Department of Biology
San Diego State University
(619) 594-6756 / 3044


Terry Frey
Professional Degrees / Courses / Background / Projects

Recent Publications / Favorite Web Sites / Leisure Activities

Full curriculum vitae


Professional Degrees

  • B.Sc. Chemistry 1970; The Ohio State University
  • Ph. D. Biochemistry 1975 UCLA
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I was born and reared in rural Central Ohio and attended Ohio State University graduating with a B.Sc. in Chemistry in June 1970. I then moved to Los Angeles as a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry (now the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) at UCLA. I received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1975 under the direction of Dr. David Eisenberg. My thesis research involved structural studies of E. coli glutamine synthetase using the techniques of X-Ray diffraction and electron microscopy. I trained as a postdoc for two years at the Biozentrum der Universitat Basel, Switzerland (advisors: E. Kellenberger, G. Schatz, and P.R. Smith) and for one year at Duke University Medical Center (advisor: H.P. Erickson). In July of 1978 I accepted a position as Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania and was promoted to Research Associate Professor in 1984. In 1986 I moved to the Department of Biology at San Diego State University and was promoted to full Professor in 1988 and served as Associate Chair from 1995-2001. I was appointed Department Chair in August 2005.

I have three sons from my first marriage (my first wife, Maria Annetje Huisman, died from inflammatory breast cancer in 1989)...

James Eric Frey (b 12/75) -- graduated in 1998 from UCSD with a major in Computer Science; currenltly a graduate student in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Jeremy Ryan Frey (b. 5/80) -- an SDSU graduate with a B.Sc. in Astronomy.

Jonathan Edward Frey (b 12/81) -- a UC Irvine graduate with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology.

On October 18, 1998 I married...

Beverly K. Barrett -- Recently retired as Director of Pupil Personnel Services at the Encinitas Union School District. Bev and I share an interest in the outdoors including bicycling, hiking, and backpacking. Bev is also an avid fisher.

Frey/Barrett Family Pictures

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My research interests are in Structural Cell and Molecular Biology, particularly in the structures of membrane proteins and cellular organelles. Our current research centers on the structural study of mitochondria by Electron Tomography. Electron Tomography is a technique that calculates three-dimensional structures from a series of electron micrographs tilted at regular intervals over a wide range of angles. Our study of mitochondria has led, along with the work of several other research groups, to a new paradigm of mitochondrial structure in which the inner membrane of mitochondria is divided into two components. The inner boundary membrane is the component that lies along the outer membrane separated from it by approximately 6-7 nanometers. At numerous sites we find tubular extensions of the inner membrane projecting toward the center of the mitochondrion forming cristae that comprise the second component of the inner membrane. Numerous tubular cristae usually merge forming large disk like lamellar cristae. The topological division of the mitochondrial inner membrane into the inner boundary membrane and the cristae membrane may also reflect a functional division, and we are investigating the possible role of this division in the principle functions of mitochondria, oxidative phosphorylation to produce chemical energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and initiation of programmed cell death (apoptosis) through the release of cytochrome c.

Three-Dimensional Models of Mitochondria

Click here to view Quicktime Movies of the Electron Tomography and the Mitochondrial Model.

Click the "Back" button of your browser to return.

Mitochondria during apoptosis

Changes in Mitochondrial Structure During Apoptosis

Goals of our future research

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Selected Representative Publications

Ghochani, M., Nulton, J.D., Salamon, P., Frey, T.G., Rabinovitch, A., Baljon, A.R.C.  “Tensile forces and shape entropy explain observed crista structure in mitochondria” Biophys. J. 99, 3244-3254 (2010).

Flynn, D.C., Nulton, J.D., Salamon, P., Frey, T.G., Rabinovitch, A., Sun, M.G., and Baljon A.R.C. “A stereological unfolding method for the study of the mitochondrial network” Image Analysis and Stereology 28, 11-22 (2009).Perkins, G.A., Sun, M.G., and Frey, T.G. “Correlated light and electron microscopy/electron tomography of mitochondria in situ,” Methods in Enzymology 456, 29-52 (2009).

Song, Z., Chochani, M., McCaffery, J.M., Frey, T.G., and Chan, D.C. “Mitofusins and OPA1 mediate sequential steps in mitochondrial membrane fusion,” Mol Biol. Cell 20, 3525-3532 (2009).

Timmer, A.M., Timmer, J.C., Pence, M.A., Hsu, L-C, Ghochani, M, Frey, T.G., Karin, M., Salvesen, G.S., and Nizet, V. “Streptolysin O Promotes Group A Streptococcus immune evasion by accelerated macrophage apoptosis,” J. Biol. Chem. 284, 862-871 (2009).

Frey, T.G. and Sun, M.G. (2008) “Correlated light and electron microscopy illuminates the role of mitochondrial inner membrane remodeling during apoptosis,” Biochim Biophys Acta 1777 847-852 .

Sun, M.G., Williams, J., Munoz-Pinedo, C., Perkins, G.A., Brown, J.M., Ellisman, M.H., Green, D.R., and Frey, T.G. (2007) "Correlated three-dimensional light and electron microscopy reveals transformation of mitochondria during apoptosis" Nature Cell Biology 9, 1057- 1065.

Frey, T.G., Perkins, G.A., and Ellisman, M.H. (2006) “Electron Tomography of Intracellular Organelles” Ann. Rev. Biophys. Biomolec. Struct. 35, 1999-224.

A. Ponnuswamy, Nulton,J., Mahaffy, J.M., Salamon, P., Frey, T.G., and Baljon, A.R.C. (2005) “Modeling tubular shapes in the inner mitochondrial membrane” Physical Biology 2, 73-79.

Frey, T.G., Renken, C.S., and Perkins, G.A. "Insight into mitochondrial structure and function from electron tomography." Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1555, 196-203 (2002).

Renken, C., Siragusa, G., Perkins, G., Washington, L., Nulton, J., Salamon, P., and Frey, T.G. "A thermodynamic model describing the nature of the crista junction:a structural motif in the mitochondrion." J. Struct. Biol. 128 137-144 (2002).

Perkins, G.A., Renken, C.W., Frey, T.G., and Elisman, M.H. "Membrane architecture of mitochondria in neurons of the central nervous system." J. Neurosci. Res. 66, 857-865 (2001).

Perkins, G.A., Renken, C.W., van der Kleij, I.J., Ellisman, M.H., Neupert, W., and Frey, T.G. "Electron tomography of mitochondria after the arrest of protein import aided by TOM19." Europ. J. Cell Biol. 80, 139-150 (2001).

Frey, T.G.
and Mannella, C.A. "The internal structure of mitochondria." Trends in Biochemical Sciences 25 319-324 (2000).

Perkins, G.A. and Frey, T.G. "Recent structural insight into mitochondria gained by microscopy." Micron 31, 97-111 (2000).

Frey, P.A. and Frey, T.G. Synthesis of undecagold labeling compounds and their applications in electron microscopic analysis of multiprotein complexes. J. Struct. Biol. 127, 94-100 (1999).

Perkins, G. A., Song, J. Y., Tarsa, L., Deerinck, T. J., Ellisman, M. H. and Frey, T. G. Electron Tomography of Mitochondria from Brown Adipocytes Reveals Crista Junctions. J. Bioenerg. Biomembr. 30, 431-442 (1998).

Perkins, G., Renken, C., Young, S., Lamont, S., Martone, M., Lindsey, S., Frey, T. and Ellisman, M. Electron tomography of large, multicomponent biological structures. J. Struct. Biol. 120, 219-227 (1997).

Perkins, G., Renken, C., Martone, M.E., Young, S.J.. Ellisman, M., and Frey, T. "Electron Tomography of Neuronal Mitochondria:Three-dimensional structure and organization of cristae and membrane contacts" J. Struct. Biol. 119, 260-272 (1997).

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Favorite Web Sites



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Leisure Activities

In my spare time I like to bicycle (mostly road cycling but sometimes mountain biking), hike and backpack, dabble in photography, read (fiction and history), cook, and work on various home projects.

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Page author: Terry Frey
Last updated: February 6, 2012

 This is a personal home page and does not represent the opinions of
San Diego State University