Research Areas

We study the interaction of herpesviruses (CMV, KSHV) with the host’s immune system. The first line of defense is activated when the virus enters the cell. Specific cellular sensors recognize the invading pathogen and trigger antiviral defenses in order to inhibit virus replication and spread. Viruses, on the other hand, have evolved the capability to counteract these innate antiviral defenses. We analyze how cytomegaloviruses block cellular defense mechanisms and which of the over 160 viral proteins are involved in this process. We also investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the cytomegalovirus species specificity and cell tropism.

Another research focus is on the development of new cell culture models for the lytic replication cycle of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus (KSHV). The use of such systems opens new avenues for investigating of viral gene functions in the context of viral infection. Moreover, these systems provide valuable tools for testing the activity of antiviral compounds.