Institute for Virology Dept. of Infectious Diseases
University of Veterinary Medicine
Phone: +49 (0) 511 953 8857, Fax: +49 (0) 511 953 8898
Many viruses use the respiratory tract as an entry site to initiate infection. All these viruses encounter the respiratory epithelium as a first barrier that has to be overcome for the successful infection of an organism. Our research interest is directed to the elucidation of the interactions between respiratory viruses and the airway epithelium that comprises specialized cells for different functions. As these differentiated epithelial cells (e.g. ciliated cells) cannot be maintained as immortalized cells, we have established culture systems for respiratory airway cells: air-liquid interface (ALI) cultures and precision-cut lung slices (PCLS). We apply these systems to cells from different species and to different viruses with a major focus on the infection of porcine airway epithelial cells by influenza viruses. Having shown that replication of porcine influenza viruses in PCLS reflects the virulence properties of these viruses, we analyze at present the adaptation of avian influenza viruses to growth in porcine airway cells. We are interested in determining the number of passages required for the avian viruses to become as virulent as the porcine viruses. In another project we are investigating the co-infection of porcine airway epithelial cells to find out how prior infection by Streptococcus suis affects infection by influenza viruses and vice versa.
In another project, we analyze the zoonotic potential of bat viruses. In this context the functional activities of the surface glycoproteins of bat influenza virus (subtype H17 and H18), African henipaviruses (G and F), and a mumps-related bat virus (HN and F) are determined.