Shruthi S. Vembar

Shruthi S. Vembar

Faculty Scientist, Molecular Parasitology

Research Focus Key Words

Malaria, Plasmodium, Molecular parasitology, Gene regulation, RNA biology, DNA epigenetic modifications, Population Genomics, Transcriptomics, Epigenomics, CRISPR/Cas technologies, Host-parasite interactions


Having obtained an M.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Biological Sciences from BITS-Pilani, India, Dr. Shruthi S. Vembar moved to the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USA, for her PhD work. For her thesis, she studied the molecular basis of Hsp70-Hsp40 interactions in budding yeast under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey L. Brodsky. She then moved to Institut Pasteur, Paris, France, to work with Dr. Artur Scherf for her post-doctoral studies, which was supported by prestigious fellowships such as the EMBO LTF and Marie-Curie IIF. Thus began Dr. Vembar’s rendezvous with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, where she focused on understanding gene regulation at the epigenetic and post-transcriptional levels. In 2018, Dr. Vembar joined IBAB as a Faculty Scientist to head a research program in malaria molecular parasitology. She also received the Ramalingaswami Life Sciences Fellowship from DBT for the year 2017-2018.


  1. Integrated M.Sc. (Hons.), BITS-Pilani, Pilani, India
  2. Ph.D: University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USA
  3. Post-doctoral Research: Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Professional Experience

At IBAB since December 2018.

Research Interests

Dr. Vembar’s team focuses on understanding the molecular basis of gene regulation in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium knowlesi. Specifically, her team studies the role of novel epigenetic DNA modifications and atypical RNA-binding proteins, which are abundant in Plasmodium spp., in parasite gene regulation and host-parasite interaction. Dr. Vembar’s team uses molecular, cellular, biochemical, genetic (state-of-the-art CRISPR/Cas9-Cas13 technologies) and omic approaches to understand these phenomena. Another area of focus is population genomics and transcriptomics of malaria parasites that are endemic to India and how host factors contribute to maintaining and/or amplifying this diversity. The ultimate goal is to identify new targets for anti-malarial drug and vaccine development.

Group Members

  1. Ambika Doddamani, Project Assistant
  2. Venkat Mudiyam, Project Assistant
  3. Dimple Acharya, PhD student (DBT-JRF)
  4. Nisha Madhukar, MSc Intern (Banasthali University)
  5. Venitha Bernard, Project Assistant
  6. Anshu Chitkara, MSc Intern (IBAB)
  7. Vishnu Ashok, MSc Intern (IBAB)
  8. Maanasa B, MSc Intern (IBAB)
  9. Devangshu Nandi, MSc Intern (IBAB)
  10. Sneha S, Project Assistant

Publications and Patents (select)

  1. Rawat M, Sahasrabudhe S, Vembar SS, Lopez-Rubio JJ, Karmodiya K.PfGCN5, a global regulator of stress responsive genes, modulates artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. biorixv.  
  2. Hammam E, Ananda G, Sinha A, Scheidig-Benatar C, Bohec M, Preiser PR, Dedon PC, Scherf A+, Vembar SS+. Discovery of a new predominant cytosine DNA modification linked to gene expression in malaria parasites.
    Nucleic Acids Res. 2020.Jan 10;48(1):184-199. +Corresponding authors    
  3. Herrera-Solorio AM, Vembar SS, Macpherson CR, Lozano-Amado D, Meza GR, Xoconostle-Cazares B, Martins RM, Chen P, Vargas M, Scherf A+, Hernandez-Rivas R+. Clipped histone H3 is integrated into nucleosomes of DNA replication genes in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. 
    EMBO Rep. 2019 e46331. 
    +Corresponding authors
  4. Zanghì G, Vembar SS, Baumgarten S, Ding S, Guizetti J, Bryant JM, Mattei D, Jensen ATR, Rénia L, Goh YS, Sauerwein R, Hermsen CC, Franetich JF, Bordessoulles M, Silvie O, Soulard V, Scatton O, Chen P, Mecheri S, Mazier D+, Scherf A+. A Specific PfEMP1 Is Expressed in P. falciparum Sporozoites and Plays a Role in Hepatocyte Infection. 
    Cell Rep. 2018 Mar 13;22(11):2951-2963. 
    +Corresponding authors
  5. Sierra-Miranda M, Vembar SS, Delgadillo DM, Ávila-López PA, Herrera-Solorio AM, Lozano Amado D, Vargas M, Hernandez-Rivas R. PfAP2Tel, harbouring a non-canonical DNA-binding AP2 domain, binds to Plasmodium falciparum telomeres. 
    Cell Microbiol. 2017 Sep;19(9). Epub 2017 May 3.
  6. Cubi R*, Vembar SS*, Biton A, Franetich JF, Bordessoulles M, Sossau D, Zanghi G, Bosson-Vanga H, Benard M, Moreno A, Dereuddre-Bosquet N, Le Grand R, Scherf A, Mazier D. Laser capture microdissection enables transcriptomic analysis of dividing and quiescent liver stages of Plasmodium relapsing species. 
    Cell Microbiol. 2017 Aug;19(8). Epub 2017 Mar 13. 
    *First authors
  7. Vembar SS+, Seetin M, Lambert C, Nattestad M, Schatz MC, Baybayan P, Scherf A, Smith ML+. Complete telomere-to-telomere de novo assembly of the Plasmodium falciparum genome through long-read (>11 kb), single molecule, real-time sequencing. 
    DNA Res. 2016 Aug;23(4):339-51. Epub 2016 Jun 26.
    +Corresponding authors
  8. Vembar SS+, Droll D, Scherf A. Translational regulation in blood stages of the malaria parasite Plasmodium spp.: systems-wide studies pave the way. 
    Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2016 Nov;7(6):772-792. Epub 2016 May 26. Review.
    +Corresponding author
  9. Vembar SS+, Macpherson CR, Sismeiro O, Coppée JY, Scherf A+. The PfAlba1 RNA-binding protein is an important regulator of translational timing in Plasmodium falciparum blood stages. 
    Genome Biol. 2015 Sep 28;16:212.
    +Corresponding authors
  10. Vembar SS, Scherf A, Siegel TN. Noncoding RNAs as emerging regulators of Plasmodium falciparum virulence gene expression. 
    Curr Opin Microbiol. 2014 Aug;20:153-61. Epub 2014 Jul 12. Review.
  11. Chêne A*, Vembar SS*, Rivière L, Lopez-Rubio JJ, Claes A, Siegel TN, Sakamoto H, Scheidig-Benatar C, Hernandez-Rivas R, Scherf A. PfAlbas constitute a new eukaryotic DNA/RNA-binding protein family in malaria parasites. 
    Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Apr;40(7):3066-77. Epub 2011 Dec 13.
    *First authors
  12. Shurtleff MJ, Itzhak DN, Hussmann JA, Schirle Oakdale NT, Costa EA, Jonikas M, Weibezahn J, Popova KD, Jan CH, Sinitcyn P, Vembar SS, Hernandez H, Cox J, Burlingame AL, Brodsky JL, Frost A, Borner GH, Weissman JS. The ER membrane protein complex interacts cotranslationally to enable biogenesis of multipass membrane proteins. 
    Elife. 2018 May 29;7. pii: e37018. 
  13. Vembar SS, Jonikas MC, Hendershot LM, Weissman JS, Brodsky JL. J domain co-chaperone specificity defines the role of BiP during protein translocation. 
    J Biol Chem. 2010 Jul 16;285(29):22484-94. Epub 2010 Apr 29.
  14. Vembar SS, Jin Y, Brodsky JL, Hendershot LM. The mammalian Hsp40 ERdj3 requires its Hsp70 interaction and substrate-binding properties to complement various yeast Hsp40-dependent functions.
    J Biol Chem. 2009 Nov 20;284(47):32462-71. Epub 2009 Sep 11.
  15. Vembar SS, Brodsky JL. One step at a time: endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation.
    Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Dec;9(12):944-57. Epub 2008 Nov 12. Review.
  16. Feng D, Zhao X, Soromani C, Toikkanen J, Römisch K, Vembar SS, Brodsky JL, Keränen S, Jäntti J. The transmembrane domain is sufficient for Sbh1p function, its association with the Sec61 complex, and interaction with Rtn1p.
    J Biol Chem. 2007 Oct 19;282(42):30618-28.
  17. Berglar A+, Vembar SS. Past, present and future of malaria prevalance and eradication in the light of climate change. Book chapter in: Elsevier Science’s Encyclopedia of Environmental Health, 2e. 2019.
    +Corresponding author
  18. Scherf A+, Malmquist N, Martins RM, Vembar SS, Lopez-Rubio JJ. Gene regulation: New insights andpossible intervention strategies. Book chapter in: Wiley-IUBMB Series Recent Advances in Malaria. 2016. +Corresponding author

Research Grants

Ramalingswami Life Sciences Fellowship Contingency Grant = 2019-2023 (5 yrs)

RLFC Ltd Industry-Academia Partnership Grant = 2019-2020


Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology
Biotech Park, Electronic City Phase I,
Bengaluru 560100,


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