Institute of Clinical Chemistry & Clinical Pharmacology
Medical Faculty, University of Bonn
University Hospital of Bonn
The focus of Martin Schlee’s research group is immune recognition and immune tolerance of viral and endogenous nucleic acids. Nucleic acid receptors of the innate immune system initiate and control the antiviral immune response of the infected organism. The detection of pathogenic RNA/DNA by nucleic acid receptors is based on recognition of unusual RNA/DNA localization, structure and modifications, so-called pattern recognition motifs. The challenge here is that the innate immune system detects sensitively pathogenic nucleic acids without false activation by the endogenous nucleic acids. While an insensitive recognition favors the spread of infection, an excessive immune detection of nucleic acids leads to autoimmune diseases. The group has identified and characterized recognition motifs of the cytosolic DNA receptor cGAS and the cytosolic RNA receptor RIG-I and endogenous as well as viral RNA modifications that prevent recognition by RIG-I.