Distinguished Professor of Oceanography

Research Interests

  • Chemistry of marine plants, microorganisms and invertebrate animals.
  • Utilization of marine-derived compounds for the treatment of various human diseases, in particular cancer and infectious diseases.

Degrees

  • B.S., California State Polytechnic University
  • M.S., San Jose State University
  • Ph.D., University of California, Riverside

Recent Publications

Kumar, A, Borgen M, Aluwihare LI, Fenical W.  2017.  Ozone-activated halogenation of mono- and dimethylbipyrrole in seawater. Environmental Science & Technology. 51:589-595.   10.1021/acs.est.6b03601   AbstractWebsite

Polyhalogenated N-methylbipyrroles of two different structure classes have been detected worldwide in over 100 environmental samples including seawater, bird eggs, fish, dolphin blubber, and in the breast milk of humans that consume seafood. These molecules are concentrated in the fatty tissues in comparable abundance to some of the most important anthropogenic contaminants, such as the halogenated flame-retardants and pesticides. Although the origin of these compounds is still unknown, we present evidence that the production of these materials can involve the direct ozone activated seawater halogenation of N-methylbipyrrole precursors. This observation shows that environmental polyhalogenated bipyrroles can be produced via an abiotic process, and implies that the ozone activated halogenation of a variety of natural and anthropogenic seawater organics may be a significant process occurring in surface ocean waters.

Hay, AJ, Yang MH, Xia XY, Liu Z, Hammons J, Fenical W, Zhu J.  2017.  Calcium enhances bile salt-dependent virulence activation in Vibrio cholerae. Infection and Immunity. 85   10.1128/iai.00707-16   AbstractWebsite

Vibrio cholerae is the causative bacteria of the diarrheal disease cholera, but it also persists in aquatic environments, where it displays an expression profile that is distinct from that during infection. Upon entry into the host, a tightly regulated circuit coordinates the induction of two major virulence factors: cholera toxin and a toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP). It has been shown that a set of bile salts, including taurocholate, serve as host signals to activate V. cholerae virulence through inducing the activity of the transmembrane virulence regulator TcpP. In this study, we investigated the role of calcium, an abundant mental ion in the gut, in the regulation of virulence. We show that whereas Ca2+ alone does not affect virulence, Ca2+ enhances bile salt-dependent virulence activation for V. cholerae. The induction of TCP by murine intestinal contents is counteracted when Ca2+ is depleted by the high-affinity calcium chelator EGTA, suggesting that the calcium present in the gut is a relevant signal for V. cholerae virulence induction in vivo. We further show that Ca2+ enhances virulence by promoting bile salt-induced TcpP-TcpP interaction. Moreover, fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) analysis demonstrated that exposure to bile salts and Ca2+ together decreases the recovery rate for fluorescently labeled TcpP, but not for another inner membrane protein (TatA). Together, these data support a model in which physiological levels of Ca2+ may result in altered bile salt-induced TcpP protein movement and activity, ultimately leading to an increased expression of virulence.

Lee, J, Han C, Lee TG, Chin J, Choi H, Lee W, Paik MJ, Won DH, Jeong G, Ko J, Yoong YJ, Nam SJ, Fenical W, Kang H.  2016.  Marinopyrones A-D, alpha-pyrones from marine-derived actinomycetes of the family Nocardiopsaceae. Tetrahedron Letters. 57:1997-2000.   10.1016/j.tetlet.2016.03.084   AbstractWebsite

Two actinomycetes, a member of the rare halophilic genus Streptomonospora and a Nocardiopsis sp. (Nocardiopsaceae), strains CNQ-082 and CNQ-675, respectively, were isolated from marine sediments collected off shore near La Jolla, California. HPLC-UV guided fractionations of the extracts of these strains yielded marinopyrones A-D (1-4), the structures of which were elucidated by interpretation of 1D and 2D NMR and HRMS spectroscopic data. Oxidative ozonation, followed by conversion of the acid product to an alpha-naphthyl amide, provided the absolute configuration at the chiral center on the side-chain. Marinopyrones A-D were examined for the inhibitory activity on nitric oxide production in LPS-activated mouse macrophage cells (RAW 264.7); marinopyrone D (4) was inhibitory with an IC50 value of 13 mu M. To our knowledge, marinopyrones A-C are only the second reported natural products from the rare halophilic genus Streptomonospora. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Le, TC, Yang I, Yoon YJ, Nam SJ, Fenical W.  2016.  Ansalactams B-D illustrate further biosynthetic plasticity within the ansamycin pathway. Organic Letters. 18:2256-2259.   10.1021/acs.orglett.6b00892   AbstractWebsite

Further chemical investigation of a marine-derived bacterium of the genus Streptomyces has led to the isolation of ansalactams B-D (1-3) along with the previously reported metabolite ansalactam A (4). Ansalactams B-D are significantly modified ansamycins, representing three new carbon skeletons and further illustrating the biosynthetic plasticity of the ansalactam class. Unlike ansalactam A, ansalactams B and D are penta- and hexacyclic metabolites, while ansalactam C illustrates an open polyene chain with a terminal carboxylic acid.

Hassan, HM, Boonlarppradab C, Fenical W.  2016.  Actinoquinolines A and B, anti-inflammatory quinoline alkaloids from a marine-derived Streptomyces sp., strain CNP975. Journal of Antibiotics. 69:511-514.   10.1038/ja.2016.56   AbstractWebsite

Actinomycete bacteria of the common genus Streptomyces can be routinely isolated from shallow and deep ocean sediments. Although commonly considered a terrestrial genus, and most abundantly found in soil, Streptomyces strains are found that have distinct requirements for seawater and routinely do not show significant similarity, with terrestrial strains by 16S ribosomal DNA phylogenetic sequence comparisons. Our examination of the culture broth of a Streptomyces sp., strain CNP975, isolated from a local La Jolla, California sediment sample, resulted in the isolation of actinoquinolines A and B (1, 2), which show significant inhibition of the arachidonic acid pathway enzymes cyclooxygenases-1 and -2. The new compounds contain the 3-hydroxyquinaldic acid (3HQA) motif found in numerous peptide antibiotics. In the actinoquinolines, 3HQA forms an amide linkage with a linear six-carbon fragment, formally a 2, 6-diamino-1, 5-dihydroxyhexane unit, a component of likely amino acid reductive off-loading origin. Actinoquinoline A illustrated amide rotational isomerism leading to complex NMR spectral data. Actinoquinoline B was assigned as the C-13 aldehyde analog isolated as an intramolecular hemiacetal. Reduction of 2 with NaBH4 yielded actinoquinoline A thus confirming the relative configurations of all centers in the actinoquinolines.