Igor Dikiy

2019 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Igor Dikiy

Current Position:
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY

Biochemistry & Structural Biology

Recognized for: Completing the first study of G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) fast sidechain dynamics using NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy to shed light on the molecular mechanisms of cell signaling. GPCRs control a variety of processes in the human body and are targets for over 30% of all FDA-approved drugs. Elucidating the mechanisms of GPCR signaling will enable researchers to design more effective drugs.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Biochemistry, Structural Biology, Biophysics, Membrane Proteins, Environmental Sensing


2019 Blavatnik Regional Awards Honorees in Chemistry

Previous Positions:

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY
PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College
BSE, Princeton University

Research Summary:

Dr. Dikiy is a biophysical chemist who is elucidating the molecular mechanisms of certain receptor proteins found in cell membranes, called G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). GPCRs control a myriad of processes within the human body, ranging from opioid dependency to olfaction. Typically, an activating molecule (known as a ligand) binds to the GPCR, causing it to change shape, which initiates a cascade of events that sends a signal throughout the cell. The atomic motions within GPCRs are essential for these sensing and signaling processes to occur. Recent studies have illustrated the different shapes that the receptors adopt in active versus inactive states, and these discoveries have helped to decipher the mechanisms of molecular signaling. However, the role of motions within the protein, including the amino acid side chain components that make up the protein, remains relatively understudied, due to the difficulties associated with measuring these motions in proteins found in the cell membrane. Scientists often use a technique called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to analyze protein structure and movement. By extending cutting-edge NMR techniques to GPCRs, Dr. Dikiy successfully conducted the first NMR study probing the side chain dynamics of a human GPCR. This achievement will provide medicinal chemists the opportunity to design more effective drugs that target these receptor proteins.

“Cell membranes are there to close off and protect the cell, but cells have to sense and respond to their environment. If we can understand the molecular details of these sensing and signaling processes, then we can begin to control cells, such as those that overgrow in cancer or bacteria that infect our bodies, and turn off these harmful processes.”

Key Publications:

  1. I. Dikiy, L. D. Clark, K. H. Gardner, D. M. Rosenbaum. Isotopic labeling of eukaryotic membrane proteins for NMR studies of interactions and dynamics. Methods in Enzymology, 2019.
  2. L. Clark, I. Dikiy, D. M. Rosenbaum, K. H. Gardner. On the use of Pichia pastoris for isotopic labeling of human GPCRs for NMR studies. Journal of Biomolecular NMR, 2018. 
  3. L. D. Clark, I. Dikiy, K. Chapman, K. E. J. Rodstrom, J Aramini, M. V. LeVine, G. Khelashvili, S. G. F. Rasmussen, K. H. Gardner, D. M. Rosenbaum, Ligand modulation of sidechain dynamics in a wild-type human GPCR. eLife, 2017.
  4. I. Dikiy, U. R. Edupuganti, R. R. Abzalimov, P. P. Borbat, M. Srivastava, J. H. Freed, K. H. Gardner. Insights into histidine kinase activation mechanisms from the monomeric blue light sensor EL346. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019. 

Other Honors:

2018 The Hans Neurath Outstanding Promise Travel Award, 32nd Annual Symposium of the Protein Society
2017 NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship
2016 Best Poster Award, New York Structural Biology Discussion Group 11th Winter Meeting
2015 Graduate School Commencement Speaker, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences

In the Media:

F1000PrimeRecommendation of “Insights into histidine kinase activation mechanisms from the monomeric blue light sensor EL346“

CUNY SUMCan Targeting Bacteria’s Senses Help Fight Resistance to Antibiotics?

CUNYLight-Driven Signaling of Bacteria May Provide Clues for How to Defeat Dangerous Infections

Phys.orgLight-Driven Signaling of Bacteria May Provide Clues for How to Defeat Dangerous Infections