Yawen Bai, Ph.D.

Yawen Bai, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute


Dr. Bai’s group is interested in understanding the basic principles that control the dynamic folding/unfolding processes of protein and chromatin using biophysical approaches. The failure of proteins to properly fold can impact their biological activity, while the folding and compaction of DNA are critical for the regulation of gene expression and cell function. Defects in either of these processes can contribute to the development of many diseases, including cancer. Thus, an understanding of their folding mechanisms is critical for the advancement of cancer research, and for the discovery of potential treatment options. Dr. Bai pioneered the native-state hydrogen exchange approach for revealing partially unfolded states of proteins. The recent studies in his group have focused on chromatin structure and dynamics using methyl-based NMR and Cryo-EM methods, which have resulted in structural insights into several important proteins in complex with the nucleosome.

Areas of Expertise

Solution NMR
Cryo-Electron Microscopy
H/D Exchange
Protein Folding Mechanism


Selected Key Publications

Distinct Structures and Dynamics of Chromatosomes with Different Human Linker Histone Isoforms

Zhou BR, Feng H, Kale S, Fox T, Khant H, de Val N, Ghirlando R, Panchenko AR, Bai Y.
Molecular Cell. 81: 166-182, 2021. [ Journal Article ]

Structural and dynamic mechanisms of CBF3-guided centromeric nucleosome formation

Guan R, Lian T, Zhou BR, He E, Wu C, Singleton M, Bai Y.
Nature Communications. 12(1): 1763, 2021. [ Journal Article ]

Structural mechanisms of centromeric nucleosome recognition by the kinetochore protein CENP-N

Chittori S, Hong J, Saunders H, Feng H, Ghirlando R, Kelly AE, Bai Y, Subramaniam S.
Science. 359: 339-343, 2018. [ Journal Article ]

Emerging roles of linker histones in regulating chromatin structure and function

Fyodorov DV, Zhou BR, Skoultchi AI, Bai Y.
Nature Review Molecular Cell Biology. 19: 192-206, 2018. [ Journal Article ]

A conserved mechanism for centromeric nucleosome recognition by centromere protein CENP-C

Kato H, Jiang J, Zhou B, Rozendaal M, Feng H, Ghirlando R, Xiao T, Straight A, Bai Y.
Science. 340: 1110-13, 2013. [ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

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Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Tengfei Lian, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Ruifang Guan, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist
Bing-Rui Zhou, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Qihui Liang, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA)
Benjamin Orris, Ph.D.


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