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Liliya Yatsunyk

A photo of Elizabeth Gallagher, Erin Chen, Sawyer McCarthy, Professor Yatsunyk, and Dana Beseiso over Zoom.

Department Overview

Our laboratory focuses on non-canonical DNA structures, G-quadruplexes and i-motifs. Such sequences are found at telomeres and oncogene promoters, among other regions. In addition, we are interested in the non-canonical DNA structures adopted by the repetitive DNA sequences from Satellite 2 and 3 in the pericentromeres of human chromosomes as well as repetitive DNA prone to double strand breaks during replication stress. Small molecule ligands, notably porphyrins, affect strongly fold and stability of G-quadruplex DNA and may act as anticancer therapeutics. We strive to determine the structural details of DNA and DNA-ligand complexes and understand the reasons behind structural diversity of DNA as well as what governs its interactions with ligands. Our efforts will yield coordinates needed for drug discovery platforms and will enable and inform rational design of new anticancer therapeutics.

Our favorite techniques include X-ray crystallography, UV-vis, circular dichroism (CD), fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), NMR, gel electrophoresis, and synthetic work.  Swarthmore undergraduate students will get to learn all or any of the techniques including shooting the crystals with X-ray beam at the national synchrotron facilities (currently we use Advanced Photon Source). We have strong collaborations with researchers from NIH, UPenn, NIST, University of Louisville, and from the European Institute of Chemistry and Biology in France.

If you are interested in working in the Yatsunyk lab:

  • send Liliya an email at lyatsun1 

  • stop by her office in SC 286 or the lab SC 285

Lab News 2020

Congratulations to Kevin Li '22 and Liliya on publication of their collaborative project with Stephen Neidle from University College London School of Pharmacy titled "Water spines and networks in G-quadruplex structures" in Nucleic Acids Research.

Congratulations to Linda Lin '20, Sawyer McCarthy, and Liliya on publication of their manuscript titled "Biophysical and X-ray structural studies of the (GGGTT)3GGG G-quadruplex in complex with N-methyl mesoporphyrin IX" in PLOS ONE.

This fall, Liliya and Dana Beseiso '21 gave a special lecture about research within the Chemistry & Biochemistry department for prospective students as part of the Discover Swarthmore program. The lecture discussed non-canonical DNA structures, the experiments we conduct in our lab, the conferences we attend, and the social activities that our group engages in. The students were able to ask questions and learn more about what it is like to do STEM research at Swarthmore. 

In August, Dana Beseiso '21 virtually attended the ACS Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo and gave an oral presentation, "Biophysical characterization and x-ray crystallography of G-quadruplex telomeric sequences from Tetrahymena thermophila," on her research.

In January, Dana Beseiso '21, Sawyer McCarthy, David Ye '23, and Liliya attended ACS - Philadelphia Local Section, Younger Chemist Committee annual poster session at the University of Sciences, Philadelphia, PA. Dana and Sawyer presented posters about their research.

Access our News Archives...

Enjoying beautiful weather and roses: Samantha Nyovanie, Ariana Yett '21, Hyun Kyung Lee '21, Deondre Jordan '19, Dr. Liliya Yatsunyk, Yanti Manurung '20,  Linda Lin '20

Enjoying beautiful weather and roses: Samantha Nyovanie, Ariana Yett '21, Hyun Kyung Lee '21, Deondre Jordan '19, Dr. Liliya Yatsunyk, Yanti Manurung '20,  Linda Lin '20

Summer 2018: Dr. Liliya Yatsunyk, Samantha Nyovanie, Arian Yett '21, Yanti Manurung '20, Hyun Kyung Lee '21, Linda Lin '20, Deondre Jordan '19

Summer 2018: Dr. Liliya Yatsunyk, Samantha Nyovanie, Ariana Yett '21, Yanti Manurung '20, Hyun Kyung Lee '21, Linda Lin '20, Deondre Jordan '19

Lab at t the 11th Frontiers in Chemistry & Biology Interface Symposium (University of Pennsylvania)

Spring 2018:  Linda Lin '20, Ariana Yett '21, Dr. Liliya Yatsunyk, Samantha Nyovanie, Barrett Powell '18 at the 11th Frontiers in Chemistry & Biology Interface Symposium (UPenn)

The lab at the Haverford URS 2017

Fall 2017:  Barrett Powell '18, Prof. Liliya Yatsunyk, Deondre Jordan '19, Samantha Nyovanie, Linda Lin '20 and Allan Gao '19, at the Haverford Undergraduate Research Symposium

Yatsunyk Lab Summer 2017

Summer 2017: Allan Gao '19, Barrett Powell '18, Prof. Liliya Yatsunyk, Deondre Jordan '19, and  Linda Lin '20 

Supriya Davis '16, Josh Turek-Herman '16, Prof. Liliya Yatsunyk, Joo Hyun Lee '17, Kara Bledsoe '16, and Jessica Chen ‘17

Summer 2012: Cole Harbeck '15, Vienna Tran ‘13, Steven Barrett 13, Michelle Ferreira '14, and Navin Sabharwal '14

Enjoying beautiful weather and roses: Samantha Nyovanie, Ariana Yett '21, Hyun Kyung Lee '21, Deondre Jordan '19, Dr. Liliya Yatsunyk, Yanti Manurung '20,  Linda Lin '20

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