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Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Personnel - Emily C. Dykhuizen

Emily C. Dykhuizen, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Phone: 494-4706
Other official webpage:

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Picture of Emily C. Dykhuizen
Specialization: chemical biology, chromatin biology


1997-2001 BA (biochemistry) Reed College under Arthur Glasfeld
2002-2008 PhD (chemistry) UW-Madison under Laura L. Kiessling
2009-2013 Postdoc (chromatin biology) Stanford University under Gerald R. Crabtree

Research: chemical biology, chromatin biology

See our website for more information:


Recent cancer genome sequencing studies have uncovered frequent mutations in genes encoding subunits of nuclear protein complexes involved in chromatin remodeling and epigenetic regulation. We are interested in using a combination of chemical and biochemical techniques to uncover the role of chromatin structure in tumor suppression. Uncovering the mechanisms of these complexes will reveal potential therapeutic avenues for cancers that currently have few therapeutic options, such as renal clear cell carcinoma and ovarian clear cell carcinoma. Three areas of research we are currently pursuing are:


1-Quantitative mass spectrometric analysis of chromatin remodeling complexes. While different subunits of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes are mutated in approximately 20% of human malignancies, in any particular cancer the mutations are often found only in one particular subunit. Cell type specific expression of homologous subunits or interaction with cell type specific factors may explain this phenomenon. We plan to use mass spec to analyze the complex subunits and associated factors in cancer lines with and without mutations in the SWI/SNF complex.


2-High throughput screening to identify inhibitors of chromatin remodelers. Aberrant function of chromatin remodelers can occur upon the deletion of a tumor-suppressive particular subunit. For example, malignant rhabdoid tumors occur when the SNF5 subunit of SWI/SNF is deleted. These tumors are dependent on the function of the remaining complex, making it a potential drug target. In addition to pursuing potential pharmaceuticals, we hope to use small molecule inhibitors of chromatin remodeling complexes to probe the mechanism and kinetics of chromatin remodeling in vivo.


3-Elucidating the function and genome-wide targeting of chromatin binding domains, such as bromodomains, PHD domains and chromodomains. We wish to understand how the targeting domains found in subunits of chromatin remodeling complexes contribute to their biological function. We plan to identify histone modifications bound by these domains and to relate this information to genome wide ChIP-seq studies performed with and without deletions of these domains. Through these studies we hope to identify if the deletion of specific subunits of chromatin remodelers in cancer leads to changes in targeting across the genome and a subsequent alteration in the transcription of known oncogenes or tumor suppressors. 

Lab Members:

Aktan Alpsoy (Graduate Student)
Luying Chen (Graduate Student)
Basudev (Dev) Chowdhury (Post-Doctoral Research Associate)
Katelyn Elizabeth Connelly (Graduate Student)
Elizabeth Grace (Libby) Porter (PULSE Graduate Student)
Jane C. Stewart (Lab Technician)

Representative Publications

  1. Chowdhury B, Porter EG, Stewart JC, Ferreira CR, Schipma MJ, Dykhuizen EC. PBRM1 Regulates the Expression of Genes Involved in Metabolism and Cell Adhesion in Renal Clear Cell Carcinoma. PLoS One. 2016 Apr 21;11(4):e0153718. PubMed PMID: 27100670; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4839679.



Dykhuizen EC*, Hargreaves DC*, Miller, EL, Cui K, Korshunov A, Kool M, Pfister S, Cho Y-J, Zhao K, Crabtree, GR. (2013) BAF Complexes Facilitate Decatenation by Topoisomerase IIa. Nature 497, 624-627.

*These authors contributed equally to this work


Dykhuizen EC, Carmody L, Tolliday N, Crabtree GR, Palmer MAJ. (2012) Screening for Inhibitors of an Essential Chromatin Remodeler in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells by Monitoring Transcriptional Regulation. Journal of Biomolecular Screening 17, 1221-30. 


Dykhuizen EC, Kiessling LL. (2009) Potent Ligands for Prokaryotic UDP-Galactopyranose Mutase that Exploit an Enzyme Subsite. Organic Letters 11, 193-196.


Dykhuizen EC, May JF, Tongpenyai A, Kiessling LL. (2008) Inhibitors of UDP-Galactopyranose Mutase Thwart Mycobacterial Growth. Journal of the American Chemical Society 130, 6706-6707. 


Carlson CB, Mowery P, Owen RM, Dykhuizen EC, Kiessling LL (2007) Selective Tumor Cell Targeting Using Low-Affinity Multivalent Interactions. ACS Chemical Biology 2, 119-127.


Stevens SL, Shaw TE, Dykhuizen E, Lessov NS, Hill JK, Wurst W, Stenzel-Poore MP (2003) Reduced Cerebral Injury in CRH-R1 Deficient Mice After Focal Ischemia: A Potential Link to Microglia and Astrocytes That Express CRH-R1.  Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 23, 1151-1159.

Curriculum Vitae

Click here for a full CV for Emily C. Dykhuizen. (an Adobe Acrobat file)

This record was last updated on Oct 26, 2016 at 10:04 AM
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