Research Group Innate Immunity and Viral Evasion

The research group "Innate Immunity and Viral Evasion" is interested in gaining a better understanding of the interplay between host cells and viruses at the cellular and molecular level.
HIV-1, the causative agent of AIDS, remains one of the most devastating viral pathogens worldwide and causes chronic immunodeficiency. Using human target cells of HIV-1, we characterize their ability to sense, with the help of the cellular pattern recognition receptors, an invading HIV-1 infection, and how efficiently this information is translated into a functional antiviral state. Vice versa, we identify and elucidate HIV-1-mediated evasion strategies of this cellular innate immunity, which explain why HIV-1 is successfully circumventing cellular defense mechanisms. Furthermore, we investigate the mode of action of cellular restriction factors, focusing on the antiviral proteins 90K and SERINC5, which can reduce the infectivity of HIV-1 particles. Knowledge on these naturally occurring molecular weapons of human cells, and how HIV-1 has evolved to counteract them, could pave new avenues towards antiviral drugs.  In addition, together with our cooperation partners from Hannover Medical School, we are developing strategies for eradication of latently HIV-1-infected resting T-cells.

The research group "Innate Immunity and Viral Evasion" is also investigating the early processes of Chikungunya virus infection and the innate immune responses during the infection. Chikungunya virus is an emerging and rapidly expanding pathogen which causes an acute infection in most cases. A subset of infected persons, however, suffers from chronic joint pain and inflammation, justifying research to develop protective and/or therapeutic options which are completely missing to date. Using both infectious particles and pseudotyped vectors, we aim to study immunological restriction as well as the entry process of the virus.

It is our pleasure to announce the 17th workshop of the study group “Immunobiology of Viral Infections” of the Society for Virology (GfV). This year´s workshop will be held for the third time at Tauberbischofsheim from September 26-28, 2018. Our aim is to establish a platform for scientific exchange among young and experienced scientists working on immunobiology of viral infections.


02. July 2018

Common disinfectants reliably kill Chikungunya viruses

Unser Klima verändert sich und damit auch die Verbreitungsgebiete von Infektionskrankheiten. Erkrankungen, die noch bis vor wenigen Jahren als reine Tropenkrankheiten galten, dringen inzwischen bis nach Europa vor. Einer dieser...

02. October 2017

PhD Prize 2017 of the DGI and DZIF for Shuting Xu

Dr. Shuting Xu was awarded the Dissertation Prize 2017 of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF)/German Society of Infectious Diseases (DGI). She obtained the award for her excellent achievements during her doctoral...

31. July 2017

16th Workshop „Immunobiology of Viral Infections“ (GfV)

Dear friends and colleagues,It is our pleasure to announce the 16th workshop of the study group “Immunobiology of Viral Infections” of the Society for Virology (GfV). This year´s workshop will be held for the second time at...

03. July 2017

Exploration Grant of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation for Christine Goffinet

Jun.-Prof. Christine Goffinet, Leiterin der Arbeitsgruppe Angeborene Immunität und Virale Evasion am Institut für Experimentelle Virologie, erhält für zwölf Monate den mit 80.000 € dotierten Exploration Grant der Boehringer...