University of Calgary

Vanina Zaremberg

  • Associate Professor
  • Biochemistry

Research Interests

Lipids are dynamic components of the signal transduction system required to regulate cell survival and cell death. There are important gaps in our basic understanding of lipid-mediated processes and their coordinated regulation with lipid metabolism. Lack of such coordination would result in failure of lipid homeostasis leading to disorders such as diabetes and cancer, as well as neurodegenerative and infectious diseases. Using yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system we aim to study specific genes, proteins, and lipids whose human counterparts are poorly or incompletely characterized.

My lab is particularly interested in the study of
i) the first and rate limiting step in the synthesis of all glycerolipids catalyzed by glycerol 3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT). Studies include structure/function aspects of yeast GPATs, identification of protein interactions and mechanisms of regulation of their activities, 
ii) the mode of action of the lipid analogue, edelfosine, a prototypical member of the alkylphosphocholine class of cancer chemotherapeutic drugs. Although edelfosine and its analogues show promise for the treatment of cancers it has been difficult to further optimize their efficacy as the cellular target of this class of drugs has yet to be identified. Based on the results of unbiased yeast genetic screens, new hypotheses are being tested involving studies on lipid microdomains, sterol traffic and phosphatidic acid signaling in yeast.

Graduate Students

Suriakarthiga Ganesan PhD choline ether lipids
Marjan Tavassoli PhD phosphorylation of yeast GPATs
Maxwell Chilije PhD metazoan dihydroxyacetone phosphate acyltransferase
Brittney Shabits M.Sc. interactions of yeast GPATs


2007 - University Faculty Award-NSERC(2006-2011)

2015 Great supervisor award (FGS)

Selected Publications

  • Google Scholar Link
  • Ganesan S, Shabits BN and Zaremberg V. (2016). Tracking Diacylglycerol and Phosphatidic Acid Pools in Budding Yeast. Lipid Insights Suppl. 1 75-85. Special supplement on “Cellular anatomy of lipid transfer” doi: 10.4137/LPI.S31781
  • Kennedy M, Moffat T, Gable K, Ganesan S, Niewola-Staszkowska K, Johnston A, Nislow C, Giaever G, Harris L, Loewith R, Zaremberg V, Harper M-E, Dunn T, Bennett S and Baetz K. (2016) A Signaling Lipid Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease Promotes Mitochondrial Dysfunction. Scientific Reports. 6:19332. doi: 10.1038/srep19332
  • Pautasso, C, Reca, S, Chatfield-Reed, K, Chua, G, Galello, F, Portela, P. Zaremberg, V and Rossi, S (2016) Identification of novel transcriptional regulators of PKA subunits in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by Quantitative Promoter–Reporter Screening.
    FEMS Yeast Res. 2016 Aug;16(5). pii: fow046. doi: 10.1093/femsyr/fow046.
  • Mahadeo M, Nathoo S, Ganesan S, Driedger M, Zaremberg V and Prenner EJ. (2015). Disruption of lipid domain organization in monolayers of complex yeast lipid extracts induced by the lysophosphatidylcholine analogue edelfosine in vivo. Chemistry and Physics of Lipids 16;191:153-162.
  • Sveen C, Macia N, Zaremberg V, Heyne B. (2015) Unveiling the triplet state of a 4- amino-7-Nitrobenzofurazan derivative in cyclohexane. Photochem Photobiol 91(2):272-9. doi: 10.1111/php.12402
  • Smart H, Mast F, Chilije M, Tavassoli M, Dacks J. and Zaremberg V.(2014) Phylogenetic Analysis of Glycerol 3-Phosphate Acyltransferases in Opisthokonts reveals unexpected ancestral complexity and novel modern biosynthetic components. PLoS One- Oct 23;9(10):e110684
  • Leblanc MA, Fairn GD, Russo SB, CZYZ O., Zaremberg V, Cowart LA, McMaster CR (2013) The yeast oxysterol binding protein Kes1 maintains sphingolipid levels. PLoS One 8(4):e60485
  • Tambellini N, Zaremberg V, Turner R, AM Weljie (2013) Evaluation of Extraction Protocols for Simultaneous Polar and Non-Polar Yeast Metabolite Analysis Using Multivariate Projection Methods Metabolites 3(3), 592-605
  • Czyz O, Bitew T, Cuesta-Marbán A, McMaster CR, Mollinedo F, and Zaremberg V (2013). Alteration of plasma membrane organization by an anticancer lysophosphatidylcholine analogue induces intracellular acidification and internalization of plasma membrane transporters in yeast. J Biol Chem, 288(12):8419-32
  • Cuesta-Marbán A, Botet J, Czyz O, Cacharro LM, Gajate C, Hornillos V, Delgado J, Zhang H, Amat-Guerri F, Acuña AU, McMaster CR, Revuelta JL, Zaremberg V* and Mollinedo F* (2013) Drug uptake, lipid rafts and vesicle trafficking modulate resistance to an anticancer lysophosphatidylcholine analogue in yeast. J Biol Chem, 288(12):8405-18
    * co-corresponding authors 
  • Bertolesi GE, Iannattone S, Johnston J, Zaremberg V, McFarlane S (2012) Identification and expression analysis of GPAT family genes during early development of Xenopus laevis. Gene Expr Patterns. 12(7-8):219-227 
  • Nancy Marr, Julena Foglia, Mauricio Terebiznik, Karin Athenstaedt and Vanina Zaremberg (2012) Controlling Lipid Fluxes at the Glycerol 3-Phosphate Acyltransferase Step in Yeast: Unique Contribution of Gat1p to Oleic Acid-Induced Lipid Particle Formation. J Biol Chem. 287(13):10251-64 
  • Bitew T, Sveen CE, Heyne B, Zaremberg V. 2010 Vitamin E prevents lipid raft modifications induced by an anti-cancer lysophospholipid and abolishes a Yap1-mediated stress response in yeast. J Biol Chem. 285(33):25731-42. Epub 2010 Jun 10.
  • Bratschi MW, Burrowes DP, Kulaga A, Cheung JF, Alvarez AL, Kearley J, Zaremberg V. 2009 Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferases gat1p and gat2p are microsomal phosphoproteins with differential contributions to polarized cell growth. Eukaryot Cell. (8):1184-96. Epub 2009 Jun 12.
  • Zaremberg V, Gajate C, Cacharro LM, Mollinedo F and McMaster C R(2005) “ Cytotoxicity of the Anti-cancer Lipid Edelfosine is Through Selective Modification of Lipid Raft Composition” J Biol Chem. 280, 38047-38058
  • Wright MM, Howe AG, Zaremberg V. (2004) “ Cell membranes and apoptosis: role of cardiolipin, phosphatidylcholine, and anticancer lipid analogues.” Biochem Cell Biol. 82(1):18-26.
  • Zaremberg V and McMaster C R (2002) “ Differential partitioning of lipids metabolized by separate yeast glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferases reveals that phospholipase D generation of phosphatidic acid mediates sensitivity to choline-containing lysolipids and drugs”. J Biol Chem. 277, 39035-39044


  • PhD
    University of Buenos Aires, 1999
  • MSc
    University of Buenos Aires, 1992
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