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Joanna Mcgouran
Assistant Professor, Chemistry


Joanna obtained a 1st class MChem Degree from the University of Oxford. Following this she completed her D.Phil. entitled "Probing sugar-plant-soil signaling" at the University of Oxford with Professor Ben Davis. Joanna then worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Professor Benedikt Kessler in the Department of Medicine, where she created novel ubiquitin-based covalent capture probes and developed inhibitor screening assays. She returned to chemistry department at the University of Oxford in 2014 to work with Professor Tom Brown where her research focused on the study of DNA cross-link repair enzymes, developing assays to study their selectivity and for inhibitor screening. In 2016, Joanna moved to Trinity College Dublin to take up the position of Schuler Assistant Professor in Translational Organic Chemistry.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Mills, E.L. and Ryan, D.G. and Prag, H.A. and Dikovskaya, D. and Menon, D. and Zaslona, Z. and Jedrychowski, M.P. and Costa, A.S.H. and Higgins, M. and Hams, E. and Szpyt, J. and Runtsch, M.C. and King, M.S. and McGouran, J.F. and Fischer, R. and Kessler, B.M. and McGettrick, A.F. and Hughes, M.M. and Carroll, R.G. and Booty, L.M. and Knatko, E.V. and Meakin, P.J. and Ashford, M.L.J. and Modis, L.K. and Brunori, G. and Sévin, D.C. and Fallon, P.G. and Caldwell, S.T. and Kunji, E.R.S. and Chouchani, E.T. and Frezza, C. and Dinkova-Kostova, A.T. and Hartley, R.C. and Murphy, M.P. and O'Neill, L.A., Itaconate is an anti-inflammatory metabolite that activates Nrf2 via alkylation of KEAP1, Nature, 556, (7699), 2018, p113-117 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Abdullah, U.B., Mcgouran, J.F., Brolih, S., Ptchelkine, D., El-Sagheer, A.H., Brown, T., Mchugh, P.J., RPA activates the XPF-ERCC1 endonuclease to initiate processing of DNA interstrand crosslinks, EMBO Journal, 2017 Journal Article, 2017

Raza, F., McGouran, J.F., Kessler, B.M., Possee, R.D., King, L.A., Phosphorylation induces structural changes in the Autographa californica nucleopolyhedrovirus P10 protein, Journal of Virology, 91, (13), 2017 Journal Article, 2017

Kessler, B.M., Bursomanno, S., McGouran, J.F., Hickson, I.D., Liu, Y., Biochemical and mass spectrometry-based approaches to profile sumoylation in human cells, Methods in Molecular Biology, 1491, 2017, p131-144 Journal Article, 2017

Doherty W, Adler N, Knox A, Nolan D, McGouran J, Nikalje A.P, Lokwani D, Sarkate A, Evans P, Synthesis and Evaluation of 1,2,3-Triazole-Containing Vinyl and Allyl Sulfones as Anti-Trypanosomal Agents, European Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2017, (1), 2017, p175 - 185 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Grijzenhout A, Godwin J, Koseki H, Gdula M, Szumska D, McGouran JF, Bhattacharya S, Kessler BM, Brockdorff N, Cooper S, Functional analysis of AEBP2, a PRC2 Polycomb protein, reveals a Trithorax phenotype in embryonic development and in ES cells., Development (Cambridge, England), 2016 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Ghari F, Quirke AM, Munro S, Kawalkowska J, Picaud S, McGouran J, Subramanian V, Muth A, Williams R, Kessler B, Thompson PR, Fillipakopoulos P, Knapp S, Venables PJ, La Thangue NB, Citrullination-acetylation interplay guides E2F-1 activity during the inflammatory response., Science advances, 2, (2), 2016, pe1501257 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Maniam S, Coutts AS, Stratford MR, McGouran J, Kessler B, La Thangue NB, Cofactor Strap regulates oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial p53 activity through ATP synthase., Cell death and differentiation, 22, (1), 2015, p156-63 Journal Article, 2015

Bursomanno S, McGouran JF, Kessler BM, Hickson ID, Liu Y, Regulation of SUMO2 target proteins by the proteasome in human cells exposed to replication stress., Journal of proteome research, 14, (4), 2015, p1687-99 Journal Article, 2015

Watson AS, Riffelmacher T, Stranks A, Williams O, De Boer J, Cain K, MacFarlane M, McGouran J, Kessler B, Khandwala S, Chowdhury O, Puleston D, Phadwal K, Mortensen M, Ferguson D, Soilleux E, Woll P, Jacobsen SE, Simon AK, Autophagy limits proliferation and glycolytic metabolism in acute myeloid leukemia., Cell death discovery, 1, 2015 Journal Article, 2015

Ying S, Chen Z, Medhurst AL, Neal JA, Bao Z, Mortusewicz O, McGouran J, Song X, Shen H, Hamdy FC, Kessler BM, Meek K, Helleday T, DNA-PKcs and PARP1 bind to unresected stalled DNA replication forks where they recruit XRCC1 to mediate repair., Cancer research, 2015 Journal Article, 2015

Kaisaki PJ, Otto GW, McGouran JF, Toubal A, Argoud K, Waller-Evans H, Finlay C, Caldérari S, Bihoreau MT, Kessler BM, Gauguier D, Mott R, Genetic control of differential acetylation in diabetic rats., PloS one, 9, (4), 2014, pe94555 Journal Article, 2014

Blackledge NP, Farcas AM, Kondo T, King HW, McGouran JF, Hanssen LL, Ito S, Cooper S, Kondo K, Koseki Y, Ishikura T, Long HK, Sheahan TW, Brockdorff N, Kessler BM, Koseki H, Klose RJ, Variant PRC1 complex-dependent H2A ubiquitylation drives PRC2 recruitment and polycomb domain formation., Cell, 157, (6), 2014, p1445-59 Journal Article, 2014

Bowles EJ, Schiffner T, Rosario M, Needham GA, Ramaswamy M, McGouran J, Kessler B, LaBranche C, McMichael AJ, Montefiori D, Sattentau QJ, Hanke T, Stewart-Jones GB, Comparison of neutralizing antibody responses elicited from highly diverse polyvalent heterotrimeric HIV-1 gp140 cocktail immunogens versus a monovalent counterpart in rhesus macaques., PloS one, 9, (12), 2014, pe114709 Journal Article, 2014

Bush J., Walport L., McGouran J., Leung I., Berridge G., Van Berkel S., Basak A., Kessler B., Schofield C., The Ugi four-component reaction enables expedient synthesis and comparison of photoaffinity probes, Chemical Science, 4, (11), 2013, p4115-4120 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

New M, Olzscha H, Liu G, Khan O, Stimson L, McGouran J, Kerr D, Coutts A, Kessler B, Middleton M, La Thangue NB, A regulatory circuit that involves HR23B and HDAC6 governs the biological response to HDAC inhibitors., Cell death and differentiation, 20, (10), 2013, p1306-16 Journal Article, 2013

Bogani D, Morgan MA, Nelson AC, Costello I, McGouran JF, Kessler BM, Robertson EJ, Bikoff EK, The PR/SET domain zinc finger protein Prdm4 regulates gene expression in embryonic stem cells but plays a nonessential role in the developing mouse embryo., Molecular and cellular biology, 33, (19), 2013, p3936-50 Journal Article, 2013

Lercher L, McGouran JF, Kessler BM, Schofield CJ, Davis BG, DNA modification under mild conditions by Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling for the generation of functional probes., Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 52, (40), 2013, p10553-8 Journal Article, 2013

Zheng S, Moehlenbrink J, Lu YC, Zalmas LP, Sagum CA, Carr S, McGouran JF, Alexander L, Fedorov O, Munro S, Kessler B, Bedford MT, Yu Q, La Thangue NB, Arginine methylation-dependent reader-writer interplay governs growth control by E2F-1., Molecular cell, 52, (1), 2013, p37-51 Journal Article, 2013

McGouran JF, Gaertner SR, Altun M, Kramer HB, Kessler BM, Deubiquitinating enzyme specificity for ubiquitin chain topology profiled by di-ubiquitin activity probes., Chemistry & biology, 20, (12), 2013, p1447-55 Journal Article, 2013

Cho EC, Zheng S, Munro S, Liu G, Carr SM, Moehlenbrink J, Lu YC, Stimson L, Khan O, Konietzny R, McGouran J, Coutts AS, Kessler B, Kerr DJ, Thangue NB, Arginine methylation controls growth regulation by E2F-1., The EMBO journal, 31, (7), 2012, p1785-97 Journal Article, 2012

McGouran JF, Kramer HB, Mackeen MM, di Gleria K, Altun M, Kessler BM, Fluorescence-based active site probes for profiling deubiquitinating enzymes., Organic & biomolecular chemistry, 10, (17), 2012, p3379-83 Journal Article, 2012

Farcas AM, Blackledge NP, Sudbery I, Long HK, McGouran JF, Rose NR, Lee S, Sims D, Cerase A, Sheahan TW, Koseki H, Brockdorff N, Ponting CP, Kessler BM, Klose RJ, KDM2B links the Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1) to recognition of CpG islands., eLife, 1, 2012, pe00205 Journal Article, 2012

Altun M, Kramer HB, Willems LI, McDermott JL, Leach CA, Goldenberg SJ, Kumar KG, Konietzny R, Fischer R, Kogan E, Mackeen MM, McGouran J, Khoronenkova SV, Parsons JL, Dianov GL, Nicholson B, Kessler BM, Activity-based chemical proteomics accelerates inhibitor development for deubiquitylating enzymes., Chemistry & biology, 18, (11), 2011, p1401-12 Journal Article, 2011

Boutureira O, McGouran JF, Stafford RL, Emmerson DP, Davis BG, Accessible sugars as asymmetric olefin epoxidation organocatalysts: glucosaminide ketones in the synthesis of terminal epoxides., Organic & biomolecular chemistry, 7, (20), 2009, p4285-8 Journal Article, 2009

Turnbull AP, Ioannidis S, Krajewski WW, Pinto-Fernandez A, Heride C, Martin ACL, Tonkin LM, Townsend EC, Buker SM, Lancia DR, Caravella JA, Toms AV, Charlton TM, Lahdenranta J, Wilker E, Follows BC, Evans NJ, Stead L, Alli C, Zarayskiy VV, Talbot AC, Buckmelter AJ, Wang M, McKinnon CL, Saab F, McGouran JF, Century H, Gersch M, Pittman MS, Marshall CG, Raynham TM, Simcox M, Stewart LMD, McLoughlin SB, Escobedo JA, Bair KW, Dinsmore CJ, Hammonds TR, Kim S, Urbé S, Clague MJ, Kessler BM, Komander D., Molecular basis of USP7 inhibition by selective small-molecule inhibitors., Nature, 550, (7677), 2017, p481-486 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Research Expertise


Research in the laboratory focuses on the synthesis of new activity based probes for chemical biology and molecular physiology applications. Current research focuses on DNA damage repair and deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) as two key regulatory classes of enzyme. There is growing evidence for a pivotal role of deubiqtinating enzymes (DUBs) in pathologies including infection, autoimmunity, cancer and neurodegeneration. DNA damage repair enzymes play crucial roles in cell maintenance and response to cancer treatments. Techniques to make the probes range form protein expression and modification to right through to purely synthetic approaches. An activity based proteomics approach allows us to study these key enzymes in their native environment, examining how activity levels change with cellular state.


Biochemistry, Nucleic Acid; Cellular Biology; Epigenetics; Mass Spectrometry; Organic chemistry; Proteins, enzymology and protein engineering; Proteomes, proteomics



Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry 2015