Dr. Hai received his B.S. in Chemistry from Peking University in 2011. He then pursued a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania (2011-2016) under the guidance of Prof. David W. Christianson. At UPenn, he focused on studying the structure and function relationship of metallohydrolases primarily using protein X-ray crystallography; and developed a keen interest in enzyme mechanism, catalysis and inhibition. He then pursued postdoctoral studies (2016-2020) in the group of Prof. Yi Tang at UCLA to study fungal natural product biosynthesis, where he discovered new enzymes and metabolic pathways through genome mining. In 2018, Dr. Hai spent a summer at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole to study microbiology, where he was intrigued by the microbial diversity in nature. In 2020, Dr. Hai starts his own research group at UCSB.
The exponentially increasing number of protein and DNA sequences from genomics studies provides tremendous opportunities to discover novel enzymes that can carry out unusual and challenging chemical transformations, and novel metabolites with new biological activities. The Hai research group will integrate chemical and biological approaches to uncover new enzyme functions and expand the toolboxes of enzymes in biocatalysis. In particular, we are interested in identifying new enzymes that can catalyze the formation of biopolymers such as homo-poly(amino acids), polyesters, and rubbers. We will leverage our discovery to develop a synthetic biology platform to synthesize these biomaterials.
Hai, Y.; Huang, A.; and Tang, Y. "Biosynthesis of amino acid-derived alpha-pyrones by an NRPS-NRPKS hybrid megasynthetase in fungi. J. Nat. Prod. 2020, 83, 593-600.
Hai, Y.; Jenner, M.; and Tang, Y. "Complete stereoinversion of L-tryptophan by a fungal single-module nonribosomal peptide synthetase. J. Am. Chem. Sco. 141, 8198-8206.
Hai, Y.; Huang, A.; and Tang, Y. "Structure-guided function discovery of an NRPS-like glycine betaine reductase for choline biosynthesis in fungi. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2019, 116, 10348-10353.
Hai, Y. and Tang, Y. "Biosynthesis of long-chain N-acyl amide by a truncated polyketide synthase-nonribosomal peptide synthetase hybrid megasynthase in fungi. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 1271-1274.
Hai, Y.; Shinsky, S. A.; Porter, N. J.; and Christianson, D. W. "Histone deacetylase 10 structure and molecular function as a polyamine deacetylase." Nat. Commun. 2017, 8, 15368.
Hai, Y. and Christianson, D. W. "Histone deacetylase 6 structure and molecular basis of catalysis and inhibition." Nat. Chem. Biol. 2016, 12, 741-747.
Hai, Y.; Kerkhoven, E. J.; Barrett, M. P.; and Christianson D. W. "Crystal structure of an arginase-like protein from Trypanosoma brucei that evolved without a binuclear manganese cluster. Biochemistry 2015, 54, 458-471.
Hai, Y.; Edwards, J. E.; Van Zandt, M. C.; Hoffmann, K. F.; and Christianson, D. W. "Crystal structure of Schistosoma mansoni arginase, a potential drug target for the treatment of schistosomiasis. Biochemistry 2014, 53, 4671-4684.
Hai, Y.; Dugery, R. J.; Healy, D.; and Christianson, D. W. "Formiminoglutamase from Trypanosoma cruzi is an arginase-like manganese metalloenzyme. Biochemistry 2013, 52, 9294-9309.
Hai, Y.; Chen, J. J.; Zhao, P.; Lv, H.; Yu, Y.; Xu, P.; and Zhang, J. L. (2011) Luminescent zinc salen complexes as single and two-photon fluorescence subcellular imaging probes. Chem. Commun. 2011, 47, 2435-2437.