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

Targeting the mSWI/SNF Complex in POU2F-POU2AF Transcription Factor-Driven Malignancies

25 Jan 2024 | bioRxiv
He, Tongchen, Xiao, Lanbo, Qiao, Yuanyuan, Klingbeil, Olaf, Young, Eleanor, Wu, Xiaoli, Mannan, Rahul, Mahapatra, Somnath, Eyunni, Sanjana, Tien, Jean, Wang, Xiaoju, Zheng, Yang, Kim, NamHoon, Zheng, Heng, Hou, Siyu, Su, Fengyun, Miner, Stephanie, Mehra, Rohit, Cao, Xuhong, Sekhar, A, Samajdar, Susanta, Ramachandra, Murali, Parolia, Abhijit, Vakoc, Christopher, Chinnaiyan, Arul

IκBζ is a dual-use coactivator of NF-κB and POU transcription factors

24 Jan 2024 | Molecular Cell | :S1097-2765(24)00008
Alpsoy, Aktan, Wu, Xiaoli, Pal, Sujay, Klingbeil, Olaf, Kumar, Pramod, El Demerdash, Osama, Nalbant, Benan, Vakoc, Christopher

A mucus production programme promotes classical pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

23 Jan 2024 | Gut
Tonelli, Claudia, Yordanov, Georgi, Hao, Yuan, Deschênes, Astrid, Hinds, Juliene, Belleau, Pascal, Klingbeil, Olaf, Brosnan, Erin, Doshi, Abhishek, Park, Youngkyu, Hruban, Ralph, Vakoc, Christopher, Dobin, Alexander, Preall, Jonathan, Tuveson, David

Engrailed-1 Promotes Pancreatic Cancer Metastasis

18 Dec 2023 | Advanced Science | :e2308537
Xu, Jihao, Roe, Jae-Seok, Lee, EunJung, Tonelli, Claudia, Ji, Keely, Younis, Omar, Somervile, Tim, Yao, Melissa, Milazzo, Joseph, Tiriac, Herve, Kolarzyk, Anna, Lee, Esak, Grem, Jean, Lazenby, Audrey, Grunkemeyer, James, Hollingsworth, Michael, Grandgenett, Paul, Borowsky, Alexander, Park, Youngkyu, Vakoc, Christopher, Tuveson, David, Hwang, Chang-Il

MYOD-SKP2 axis boosts tumorigenesis in fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma by preventing differentiation through p57Kip2 targeting

15 Dec 2023 | Nature Communications | 14(1):8373
Pomella, Silvia, Cassandri, Matteo, D'Archivio, Lucrezia, Porrazzo, Antonella, Cossetti, Cristina, Phelps, Doris, Perrone, Clara, Pezzella, Michele, Cardinale, Antonella, Wachtel, Marco, Aloisi, Sara, Milewski, David, Colletti, Marta, Sreenivas, Prethish, Walters, Zoë, Barillari, Giovanni, Di Giannatale, Angela, Milano, Giuseppe, De Stefanis, Cristiano, Alaggio, Rita, Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Sonia, Carlesso, Nadia, Vakoc, Christopher, Velardi, Enrico, Schafer, Beat, Guccione, Ernesto, Gatz, Susanne, Wasti, Ajla, Yohe, Marielle, Ignatius, Myron, Quintarelli, Concetta, Shipley, Janet, Miele, Lucio, Khan, Javed, Houghton, Peter, Marampon, Francesco, Gryder, Berkley, De Angelis, Biagio, Locatelli, Franco, Rota, Rossella

Marker-based CRISPR screening reveals a MED12-p63 interaction that activates basal identity in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

27 Oct 2023 | bioRxiv
Maia-Silva, Diogo, Schier, Allison, Skopelitis, Damianos, Kechejian, Vahag, Alpsoy, Aktan, Liverpool, Jynelle, Taatjes, Dylan, Vakoc, Christopher

Myo-differentiation reporter screen reveals NF-Y as an activator of PAX3-FOXO1 in rhabdomyosarcoma

5 Sep 2023 | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 120(36):e2303859120
Sroka, Martyna, Skopelitis, Damianos, Vermunt, Marit, Preall, Jonathan, El Demerdash, Osama, de Almeida, Larissa, Chang, Kenneth, Utama, Raditya, Gryder, Berkley, Caligiuri, Giuseppina, Ren, Diqiu, Nalbant, Benan, Milazzo, Joseph, Tuveson, David, Dobin, Alexander, Hiebert, Scott, Stengel, Kristy, Mantovani, Roberto, Khan, Javed, Kohli, Rahul, Shi, Junwei, Blobel, Gerd, Vakoc, Christopher

In vivo CRISPR/Cas9 Screening Identifies Pbrm1 as a Regulator of Mouse Myeloid Leukemia Development

10 Jul 2023 | Blood Advances | 7(18):5281-5293
Li, Bin, Li, Grace, Cai, Wenqing, Zhu, Qian, Seruggia, Davide, Fujiwara, Yuko, Vakoc, Christopher, Orkin, Stuart

Made to order tuft cells by an OCA-T1 isoform switch

12 May 2023 | Science Immunology | 8(83):eadh3123
Wu, Xiaoli, Vakoc, Christopher

p73 activates transcriptional signatures of basal lineage identity and ciliogenesis in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

21 Apr 2023 | bioRxiv
Hur, Stella, Somerville, Tim, Wu, Xiaoli, Maia-Silva, Diogo, Demerdash, Osama, Tuveson, David, Notta, Faiyaz, Vakoc, Christopher

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