Cell autonomous and innate immune defense
All mammalian cells possess inherent cell autonomous defense mechanisms to fight intracellular bacteria. Autophagy, a prominent effector mechanism to defeat intracellular bacteria directly, leads to the destruction of the bacteria and the survival of the host cell. In addition, cells severely damaged by the intracellular pathogen eventually start a suicide program called apoptosis effective in self-destruction of the infected cell in order to prevent further spreading of the infectious agents. The focus of this research project is the investigation of the mechanism, by which Chlamydia interferes with the host ubiquitination system to subvert autophagy and apoptosis (read more).
A second line of defense against Chlamydia infections is given by specialized cells of the innate immune system called phagocytes which have the intrinsic capacity to engulf and destroy Chlamydia released from the host cell and to induce an efficient immune response. We aim to understand how Chlamydia overcomes destruction by polymorph nuclear phagocytes (PMNs) (read more).