Chris Vakoc

Christopher Vakoc

Cancer Center Program Co-Leader
Alan and Edith Seligson Professor of Cancer Research

M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2007

vakoc@cshl.edu | 516-367-5045

Vakoc Lab Website   Faculty Profile

Cancer cells achieve their pathogenicity by changing which genes are on and off. To maintain these changes in gene expression, cancer cells rely on proteins that interact with DNA or modify chromatin. My group investigates how such factors sustain the aberrant capabilities of cancer cells, thereby identifying new therapeutic targets.

Cancer can be understood as a disease of dysfunctional gene expression control. Research in Chris Vakoc’s lab investigates how transcription factors and chromatin regulators cooperate to control gene expression and maintain the cancer cell state. This work makes extensive use of genetic screens to reveal cancer-specific functions for transcriptional regulators, as well as genomic and biochemical approaches to identify molecular mechanisms. One theme that has emerged from their efforts is that blood cancers are often vulnerable to targeting transcriptional coactivators, such as BRD4 and the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. Vakoc’s team demonstrated that chemical inhibition of BRD4 exhibits therapeutic effects in mouse models of leukemia, a finding that has motivated ongoing clinical trials in human leukemia patients. The Vakoc lab has also developed a CRISPR-Cas9 screening approach that can reveal individual protein domains that sustain cancer cells. Their lab is now deploying this technology in a diverse array of human cancers to reveal therapeutic opportunities and basic mechanisms of cancer gene control.

Vakoc wins Paul Marks Prize for cancer research
AACR Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research Award
Forbeck Scholar Award
"V Scholar" by The V Foundation for Cancer Research
Burroughs Welcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists
Pershing Square Sohn Prize
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Award

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All Publications

ETV6 dependency in Ewing sarcoma by antagonism of EWS-FLI1-mediated enhancer activation

19 Jan 2023 | Nature Cell Biology
Gao, Yuan, He, Xue-Yan, Wu, Xiaoli, Huang, Yu-Han, Toneyan, Shushan, Ha, Taehoon, Ipsaro, Jonathan, Koo, Peter, Joshua-Tor, Leemor, Bailey, Kelly, Egeblad, Mikala, Vakoc, Christopher

BRD8 maintains glioblastoma by epigenetic reprogramming of the p53 network

21 Dec 2022 | Nature
Sun, Xueqin, Klingbeil, Olaf, Lu, Bin, Wu, Caizhi, Ballon, Carlos, Ouyang, Meng, Wu, Xiaoli, Jin, Ying, Hwangbo, Yon, Huang, Yu-Han, Somerville, Tim, Chang, Kenneth, Park, Jung, Chung, Taemoon, Lyons, Scott, Shi, Junwei, Vogel, Hannes, Schulder, Michael, Vakoc, Christopher, Mills, Alea

Epigenome programing by H3.3K27M mutation creates a dependence of pediatric glioma on SMARCA4

28 Oct 2022 | Cancer Discovery | :CD-21
Mo, Yan, Duan, Shoufu, Zhang, Xu, Hua, Xu, Zhou, Hui, Wei, Hong-Jian, Watanabe, Jun, McQuillan, Nicholas, Su, Zhenyi, Gu, Wei, Wu, Cheng-Chia, Vakoc, Christopher, Hashizume, Rintaro, Chang, Kenneth, Zhang, Zhiguo

Sirtuin 6 maintains epithelial STAT6 activity to support intestinal tuft cell development and type 2 immunity

3 Sep 2022 | Nature Communications | 13(1):5192
Xiong, Xiwen, Yang, Chenyan, He, Wei-Qi, Yu, Jiahui, Xin, Yue, Zhang, Xinge, Huang, Rong, Ma, Honghui, Xu, Shaofang, Li, Zun, Ma, Jie, Xu, Lin, Wang, Qunyi, Ren, Kaiqun, Wu, Xiaoli, Vakoc, Christopher, Zhong, Jiateng, Zhong, Genshen, Zhu, Xiaofei, Song, Yu, Ruan, Hai-Bin, Wang, Qingzhi

Endogenous DOPA inhibits melanoma through suppression of CHRM1 signaling

2 Sep 2022 | Science Advances | 8(35):eabn4007
Doepner, Miriam, Lee, Inyoung, Natale, Christopher, Brathwaite, Roderick, Venkat, Swati, Kim, Sung, Wei, Yiliang, Vakoc, Christopher, Capell, Brian, Katzenellenbogen, John, Katzenellenbogen, Benita, Feigin, Michael, Ridky, Todd

FoxA1 and FoxA2 control growth and cellular identity in NKX2-1-positive lung adenocarcinoma

5 Jul 2022 | Developmental Cell
Orstad, Grace, Fort, Gabriela, Parnell, Timothy, Jones, Alex, Stubben, Chris, Lohman, Brian, Gillis, Katherine, Orellana, Walter, Tariq, Rushmeen, Klingbeil, Olaf, Kaestner, Klaus, Vakoc, Christopher, Spike, Benjamin, Snyder, Eric

OCA-T1 and OCA-T2 are coactivators of POU2F3 in the tuft cell lineage

16 May 2022 | Nature
Wu, Xiaoli, He, Xue-Yan, Ipsaro, Jonathan, Huang, Yu-Han, Preall, Jonathan, Ng, David, Shue, Yan, Sage, Julien, Egeblad, Mikala, Joshua-Tor, Leemor, Vakoc, Christopher

Comparative optimization of combinatorial CRISPR screens

5 May 2022 | Nature Communications | 13(1):2469
Li, Ruitong, Klingbeil, Olaf, Monducci, Davide, Young, Michael, Rodriguez, Diego, Bayyat, Zaid, Dempster, Joshua, Kesar, Devishi, Yang, Xiaoping, Zamanighomi, Mahdi, Vakoc, Christopher, Ito, Takahiro, Sellers, William

SMARCA4 biology in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma

29 Jan 2022 | Oncogene
Bharathy, Narendra, Cleary, Megan, Kim, Jin-Ah, Nagamori, Kiyo, Crawford, Kenneth, Wang, Eric, Saha, Debarya, Settelmeyer, Teagan, Purohit, Reshma, Skopelitis, Damianos, Chang, Kenneth, Doran, Jessica, Kirschbaum, C, Bharathy, Suriya, Crews, Davis, Randolph, Matthew, Karnezis, Anthony, Hudson-Price, Lisa, Dhawan, Jyotsna, Michalek, Joel, Ciulli, Alessio, Vakoc, Christopher, Keller, Charles

SCP4-STK35/PDIK1L complex is a dual phospho-catalytic signaling dependency in acute myeloid leukemia

11 Jan 2022 | Cell Reports | 38(2):110233
Polyanskaya, Sofya, Moreno, Rosamaria, Lu, Bin, Feng, Ruopeng, Yao, Yu, Irani, Seema, Klingbeil, Olaf, Yang, Zhaolin, Wei, Yiliang, Demerdash, Osama, Benjamin, Lukas, Weiss, Mitchell, Zhang, Yan, Vakoc, Christopher

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