After performing my doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, I joined the laboratory of Artur Scherf in Oct 2010 for my post-doctoral research. During my time at Institut Pasteur, I have been funded by the Marie Curie-Sklodowska International Incoming Fellowship, the EMBO Long-term Fellowship and the Institut Pasteur Bourse Roux.
The 48-h intra-erythrocytic replicative cycle (IDC) of Plasmodium falciparum occurs in three metabolically distinct stages: Rings (0-24 h post-invasion), Trophozoites (24-36h post-invasion) and Schizonts (36-48 h post-invasion). Each of the IDC stages has signature transcriptomic and proteomic profiles, which are regulated at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. I am interested in understanding the molecular basis of post-transcriptional gene regulation (PTGR) during the IDC.
I am currently characterizing a family of DNA- & RNA-binding proteins of archaeal origin called Alba (Acetylation lowers binding affinity) that was first identified in the our lab. I use a cell biological, biochemical and reverse genetic approach combined with Illumina-based deep sequencing to identify RNA partners of the PfAlbas and their essential functions in erythrocytic stage PTGR. My work has provided new insights into the PTGR of parasite virulence factors by PfAlba1.
Relevant research articles:
1. The PfAlba1 RNA-binding protein is an important regulator of translational timing in Plasmodium falciparum blood stages**. Vembar SS*, Macpherson CR, Sismeiro O, Coppée JY, Scherf A*. Genome Biol. 2015 Sep 28;16(1):212. doi: 10.1186/s13059-015-0771-5. *Corresponding authors
**Editor’s Pick and Research Highlight: PfAlba1: master regulator of translation in the malaria parasite. Bunnik EM, Le Roch KG. Genome Biol. 2015 Oct 8;16(1):221. doi: 10.1186/s13059-015-0795-x.
2. Noncoding RNAs as emerging regulators of Plasmodium falciparum virulence gene expression. Vembar SS, Scherf A, Siegel TN. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2014 Aug;20:153-61. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2014.06.013. Epub 2014 Jul 12. Review.
3. PfAlbas constitute a new eukaryotic DNA/RNA-binding protein family in malaria parasites. Chêne A*, Vembar SS*, Rivière L, Lopez-Rubio JJ, Claes A, Siegel TN, Sakamoto H, Scheidig-Benatar C, Hernandez-Rivas R, Scherf A. Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Apr;40(7):3066-77. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr1215. Epub 2011 Dec 13. *Equal contribution