Who are we ...

We are a young molecular virology group at the Institute for Virology and Cell-biology, studying the biology of caliciviruses with emphasis on murine and human noroviruses as well as other Caliciviruses.

Our group has a keen interest in the entry process of caliciviruses, focusing on the role of glycans in infection. We are particularly interested in cellular and viral determinants of norovirus tropism and pathogenesis.

We are embedded in the DFG funded research unit ViroCarb to study the role of glycans in non-enveloped virus infections.

What we do ...

Our investigations encompass structural analysis of protein-compound interactions that can be used for the development of platforms to design and test new antivirals.

We are interested in the dynamics of virus-glycan interaction at atomic level, using structural approaches such as X-ray crystallography and STD NMR. Most importantly, we study the role of glycans in viral infection For this, we use a broad range of molecular biology, cell biology and virology techniques, state-of-the-art cell culture assays, reverse genetics, and in vivo models, and electron microscopy. X-ray crystallography is conducted in collaboration with the Hansman group in Heidelberg, and the Redecke group in Luebeck. STD-NMR is performed with in collaboration with the Peters group in Luebeck, and mass spectrometry with the Uetrecht group at the Heinrich-Pette-Institute in Hamburg.

All noroviruses analyzed so far show interactions with polymorphic carbohydrates but no clear distinction in glycan specificity can be observed between human and animal noroviruses. The ability of human noroviruses to establish infection is linked to the ability of the viral capsid to bind fucosylated glycans related to histo-blood group antigens (HBGA). The molecular mechanism of this interaction is not understood and focus our investigations.

Our goals...

Our long-term goal is to shed light on the norovirus entry mechanism and evaluate, whether glycan-binding constitutes a general target to combat virus infection.