Professional Education


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University (2016)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications


  • Challenges for Targeting SARS-CoV-2 Proteases as a Therapeutic Strategy for COVID-19. ACS infectious diseases Steuten, K., Kim, H., Widen, J. C., Babin, B. M., Onguka, O., Lovell, S., Bolgi, O., Cerikan, B., Neufeldt, C. J., Cortese, M., Muir, R. K., Bennett, J. M., Geiss-Friedlander, R., Peters, C., Bartenschlager, R., Bogyo, M. 2021

    Abstract

    Two proteases produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the main protease and papain-like protease, are essential for viral replication and have become the focus of drug development programs for treatment of COVID-19. We screened a highly focused library of compounds containing covalent warheads designed to target cysteine proteases to identify new lead scaffolds for both Mpro and PLpro proteases. These efforts identified a small number of hits for the Mpro protease and no viable hits for the PLpro protease. Of the Mpro hits identified as inhibitors of the purified recombinant protease, only two compounds inhibited viral infectivity in cellular infection assays. However, we observed a substantial drop in antiviral potency upon expression of TMPRSS2, a transmembrane serine protease that acts in an alternative viral entry pathway to the lysosomal cathepsins. This loss of potency is explained by the fact that our lead Mpro inhibitors are also potent inhibitors of host cell cysteine cathepsins. To determine if this is a general property of Mpro inhibitors, we evaluated several recently reported compounds and found that they are also effective inhibitors of purified human cathepsins L and B and showed similar loss in activity in cells expressing TMPRSS2. Our results highlight the challenges of targeting Mpro and PLpro proteases and demonstrate the need to carefully assess selectivity of SARS-CoV-2 protease inhibitors to prevent clinical advancement of compounds that function through inhibition of a redundant viral entry pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00815

    View details for PubMedID 33570381

  • The Antimalarial Natural Product Salinipostin A Identifies Essential α/β Serine Hydrolases Involved in Lipid Metabolism in P. falciparum Parasites. Cell chemical biology Yoo, E., Schulze, C. J., Stokes, B. H., Onguka, O., Yeo, T., Mok, S., Gnädig, N. F., Zhou, Y., Kurita, K., Foe, I. T., Terrell, S. M., Boucher, M. J., Cieplak, P., Kumpornsin, K., Lee, M. C., Linington, R. G., Long, J. Z., Uhlemann, A. C., Weerapana, E., Fidock, D. A., Bogyo, M. 2020

    Abstract

    Salinipostin A (Sal A) is a potent antiplasmodial marine natural product with an undefined mechanism of action. Using a Sal A-derived activity-based probe, we identify its targets in the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. All of the identified proteins contain α/β serine hydrolase domains and several are essential for parasite growth. One of the essential targets displays a high degree of homology to human monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) and is able to process lipid esters including a MAGL acylglyceride substrate. This Sal A target is inhibited by the anti-obesity drug Orlistat, which disrupts lipid metabolism. Resistance selections yielded parasites that showed only minor reductions in sensitivity and that acquired mutations in a PRELI domain-containing protein linked to drug resistance in Toxoplasma gondii. This inability to evolve efficient resistance mechanisms combined with the non-essentiality of human homologs makes the serine hydrolases identified here promising antimalarial targets.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chembiol.2020.01.001

    View details for PubMedID 31978322

  • The Toxoplasma gondii Active Serine Hydrolase 4 Regulates Parasite Division and Intravacuolar Parasite Architecture. mSphere Foe, I. T., Onguka, O., Amberg-Johnson, K., Garner, R. M., Amara, N., Beatty, W., Yeh, E., Bogyo, M. 2018; 3 (5)

    Abstract

    Hydrolase are enzymes that regulate diverse biological processes, including posttranslational protein modifications. Recent work identified four active serine hydrolases (ASHs) in Toxoplasma gondii as candidate depalmitoylases. However, only TgPPT1 (ASH1) has been confirmed to remove palmitate from proteins. ASH4 (TgME49_264290) was reported to be refractory to genetic disruption. We demonstrate that recombinant ASH4 is an esterase that processes short acyl esters but not palmitoyl thioesters. Genetic disruption of ASH4 causes defects in cell division and premature scission of parasites from residual bodies. These defects lead to the presence of vacuoles with a disordered intravacuolar architecture, with parasites arranged in pairs around multiple residual bodies. Importantly, we found that the deletion of ASH4 correlates with a defect in radial dispersion from host cells after egress. This defect in dispersion of parasites is a general phenomenon that is observed for disordered vacuoles that occur at low frequency in wild-type parasites, suggesting a possible general link between intravacuolar organization and dispersion after egress.IMPORTANCE This work defines the function of an enzyme in the obligate intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii We show that this previously uncharacterized enzyme is critical for aspects of cellular division by the parasite and that loss of this enzyme leads to parasites with cell division defects and which also are disorganized inside their vacuoles. This leads to defects in the ability of the parasite to disseminate from the site of an infection and may have a significant impact on the parasite's overall infectivity of a host organism.

    View details for PubMedID 30232166

  • The Toxoplasma gondii Active Serine Hydrolase 4 Regulates Parasite Division and Intravacuolar Parasite Architecture MSPHERE Foe, I. T., Onguka, O., Amberg-Johnson, K., Garner, R. M., Amara, N., Beatty, W., Yeh, E., Bogyo, M. 2018; 3 (5)
  • The Toxoplasma gondii Active Serine Hydrolase 4 Regulates Parasite Division and Intravacuolar Parasite Architecture (vol 3, e00393-18, 2018) MSPHERE Foe, I. T., Onguka, O., Amberg-Johnson, K., Garner, R. M., Amara, N., Beatty, W., Yeh, E., Bogyo, M. 2018; 3 (5)
  • Erratum for Foe et al., "The Toxoplasma gondii Active Serine Hydrolase 4 Regulates Parasite Division and Intravacuolar Parasite Architecture". mSphere Foe, I. T., Onguka, O., Amberg-Johnson, K., Garner, R. M., Amara, N., Beatty, W., Yeh, E., Bogyo, M. 2018; 3 (5)

    Abstract

    [This corrects the article DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00393-18.].

    View details for DOI 10.1128/mSphere.00535-18

    View details for PubMedID 31329810

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6180226