Modulation of microbial communities in virus infected hosts
Influenza A viruses are common respiratory pathogens causing millions of infections every winter season with hundreds of thousands of human fatalities every year. A major complication of respiratory viral infections is secondary bacterial pneumonia. It is believed that through a multitude of mechanisms a prior viral infection primes a host organism to become more susceptible for outgrowth or colonization of pathogenic bacteria. In my group we study this triangular relationship of respiratory viruses with their host organism and pathogenic or commensal bacteria colonizing the respiratory tract.
On a molecular level we are interested in understanding how small accessory proteins regulate the inflammatory response against influenza A viruses and which host proteins are targeted in this process. We further explore the function of viral surface proteins in the viral entry process and in cellular stress responses.
On organism level we study how influenza A viruses shape bacterial communities in the respiratory and the intestinal tract and what are the consequences of these changed ecosystems for the host immune system.