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Assistant Scientist

Krithika Rajaram, PhD, builds and implements genetic tools to study the biology of a unique organelle in human malaria parasites called the apicoplast.

Contact Info

615 N Wolfe St, E4410

Research Interests

malaria; plasmodium; parasite; apicoplast; mitochondrion; chlamydia; metabolism
Experiences & Accomplishments
Indiana University-Bloomington
Anna University (India)
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University

Metabolic processes in the malaria parasite are compartmentalized between various subcellular organelles, including the mitochondrion and a complex plastid referred to as the apicoplast. The bacterial origins of the mitochondrion and apicoplast make them attractive drug targets, but many aspects of their biogenesis, proteomic content and relative importance in different stages of the parasite life cycle have not been fully defined. A key challenge in attempting to study essential genes with predicted organellar functions is that their disruption results in lethality. At Hopkins, I have learned to engineer and apply genetic tools to overcome this problem and to fill some of the knowledge gaps in parasite organellar biology (PMID: 32059044, PMID: 32815516, PMID: 32817449).
Honors & Awards
2016-2018 JHMRI Postdoctoral Fellowship
2018-2020 MMI T32 Training grant recipient
2019 Delta-Omega Scholarship Award
2022 Johns Hopkins Discovery Award
Select Publications
Relevant publications
  • Rajaram K, Tewari SG, Wallqvist A, Prigge ST. Metabolic changes accompanying the loss of fumarate hydratase and malate-quinone oxidoreductase in the asexual blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum. J Biol Chem. 2022; 101897.
  • Okada M, Rajaram K, Swift RP, Mixon A, Maschek JA, Prigge ST, Sigala PA. Critical role for isoprenoids in apicoplast biogenesis by malaria parasites. eLife 2022;11: e73208.
  • Swift RP, Rajaram K, Liu HB, Prigge ST. Dephospho-CoA kinase, a nuclear-encoded apicoplast protein, remains active and essential after apicoplast disruption. EMBO J. 2021; 40: e107247.
  • Swift RP, Rajaram K, Liu HB, Dziedzic A, Jedlicka AE, Roberts AD, Matthews KA, Jhun H, Bumpus NN, Tewari S, Wallqvist A, Prigge ST. A mevalonate bypass system facilitates elucidation of plastid biology in malaria parasites. PLoS Pathog. 2020; 16(2): e1008316. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008316.
  • Rajaram K, Liu HB, Prigge ST. A redesigned TetR-aptamer system for controlling gene expression in Plasmodium falciparum. mSphere 2020; 5(4): e00457-20. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00457-20.