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.

Current Graduate Students

Suria Ganesan (PhD)

Maxwell Chilije (PhD)

Maria Laura Sosa Ponce (PhD)




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

2015 Great supervisor award (FGS)

Recent Publications


Recent Publications:


Ganesan S, Sosa Ponce ML, Tavassoli M, Shabits BN, Mahadeo M, Prenner EJ, Terebiznik M and Zaremberg V (2019) Metabolic control of cytosolic-facing pools of diacylglycerol in budding yeast.

Traffic 20(3):226-245.


Naufer A, Hipolito V, Ganesan S, Prashar A, Zaremberg V, Botelho R, and Terebiznik M (2018)

pH of endo-phagosomes controls association of their membranes with Vps34 and PtdIns(3)P levels

J Cell Biol 217(1):329-346


Tambellini NP, Zaremberg V, Krishnaiah S, Turner RJ, Weljie AM (2017) Primary metabolism and medium-chain fatty acid alterations precede long-chain fatty acid changes impacting neutral lipid metabolism in response to an anti-cancer lysophosphatidylcholine analogue in yeast.

J Proteome Res. 16(10):3741-3752.


Other Publications:


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. 16 (5): fow046. doi: 10.1093/femsyr/fow046.


Ganesan S, Shabits BN and Zaremberg V. (2015).

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


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 (§co-corresponding author).


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


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


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


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 author)


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 Expression Patterns. 12(7-8):219-227


Marr N, Foglia J, Terebiznik M, Athenstaedt K and Zaremberg V (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



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