Lüder, Carsten, Prof. Dr.
Professor of Medical Microbiology and Infection Immunology
- 1991: Diploma (Biology), Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen (Germany)
- 1995: Dr. rer. nat, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen (Germany)
- 1995-1999: Postdoctoral fellow and research group leader at the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology, Julius-Maximilians-University, Würzburg (Germany)
- since 1999: Independent research group leader at the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Georg-August-University, Göttingen (Germany),
- 2004: Habilitation in Medical Microbiology and Infection Immunology, Medical Faculty, Georg-August-University, Göttingen (Germany)
- 2009: Apl.-Professorship, Georg-August-University, Göttingen (Germany)
Major Research Interests
The group is currently working on the host-pathogen interplay during infections with the eukaryotic parasite Toxoplasma gondii. T. gondii is a widely distributed opportunistic pathogen of humans and livestock and a model for obligatory intracellular parasites. We are particularly interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms of how the parasite evades immune responses of the mammalian host. In addition, the factors that regulate stage differentiation and persistence of the parasite in distinct host tissues are being studied.
Immune evasion by T. gondii
Interferon-gamma (IFN-g) activation of infected macrophages is a main defense mechanism against intracellular pathogens including T. gondii. However, T. gondii inhibits IFN-g-regulated gene expression including MHC class II genes by interacting with the chromatin remodeling at STAT1-responsive promoters. The group is unraveling the mechanisms how the parasite interferes with histone acetylation and assembly of chromatin remodeling complexes. We are also interested to identify and characterize parasite effectors regulating these processes in the host cell.
Apoptosis is another major defense mechanism of infected cells and activated cytotoxic lymphocytes to eradicate intracellular pathogens. T. gondii intersects with the intrinsic and the death receptor-triggered apoptotic pathways of its host cells by different means thereby inhibiting host cell apoptosis. We are investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms how T. gondii interferes with activation of pro-apoptotic Bax and Bak, with the apoptosome formation and how the parasite leads to cleavage of the initiator caspase 8. Furthermore, identification of parasite anti-apoptotic effectors and how they reach their cellular targets are being studied. Recently, we also started to elucidate apoptosis-like pathways in T. gondii itself.
Tissue specific host-parasite interactions
Long-term persistence of T. gondiiis a prerequisite for its transmission to new hosts and is mainly sustained within host muscle and brain tissue. We are investigating tissue-specific factors that facilitate the transition of the parasite to the dormant and potentially persisting parasite stage (the so called bradyzoite) in muscle tissue and how they are regulated following infection. In addition, the impact of cytokines on the development of T. gondii in muscle cells is investigated. Finally, the tissue distribution of T. gondii in infected livestock is being analyzed.
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