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ImmunoSensation - the immune sensory system

Nucleic acid sensing in autoimmune vasculitis

August 24, 2022


Monocyte-derived macrophages involved in the development of ANCA-asscoiated vasculitis
Our own immune system can become the enemy when mechanisms that are actually protective get out of control. In ANCA-associated vasculitis, excessive inflammatory reactions lead to pulmonary hemorrhages that can be fatal if left untreated. Researchers at ImmunoSensation2, together with colleagues from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and England, have deciphered a mechanism in mice and patients that leads to the severe disease. The results are now published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.


Structure of periplasmic TRAP transporter revealed

August 04, 2022


Elevator Tripartite ATP-independent periplasmic (TRAP) transporter shows a monomeric elevator architecture
Elevator Tripartite ATP-independent periplasmic (TRAP) transporters are found among various bacteria and archaea. They are situated in the periplasmic space and act as transport proteins for organic acids and related molecules. Though TRAP transporters are known to harbor two transmembrane domains and one soluble substrate-binding protein domain, until now the exact molecular structure remained elusive. Scientists of the excellence cluster ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn in cooperation with colleagues of the University of York have now identified the structure of the TRAP transporter HiSiaQM. A functional analysis further revealed potential target areas for transporter inhibition. The study has now been published in the journal Nature Communications.


Cross-validation of distance measurements in proteins

August 02, 2022


Large scale analysis of PELDOR/DEER and smFRET as complementary tools in structural biology
In order to investigate intermolecular distances, conformational changes or structural heterogeneity of biological molecules, two different methods are widely used: Pulsed electron-electron double resonance spectroscopy (PELDOR/DEER) and single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer spectroscopy (smFRET). Scientists of the excellence cluster ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn and of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich have now compared the accuracy of the two methods. The study has now been published in the journal Nature Communications.


Covid-19: Immune response hampered by low availability of ketone bodies

Juli 26, 2022


Supply of T-cells with adequate energy carriers deficient in patients suffering from Covid-19
In Covid-19 patients, the metabolism produces energy-rich ketone bodies in insufficient amounts. However, these energy carriers are needed by both helper and killer T-cells in order to fight the virus effectively. Perhaps this finding explains why some people become much more seriously ill than others. A study led by ImmunoSensation2 member Prof. Christoph Wilhelm at least points in this direction. The results have now been published in the journal Nature. They also give hope for new therapeutic approaches.


Inosine enhances energy consumption in brown fat tissue

Juli 08, 2022


Apoptotic brown adipocytes stimulate surrounding healthy cells by the release of purine metabolite
A study led by ImmunoSensation2 member Prof. Alexander Pfeiffer at the University Hospital Bonn identified a molecule - the purine inosine - that boosts fat burning in brown adipocytes. The mechanism was discovered in mice, but probably exists in humans as well: If a transporter for inosine is less active, the mice remain significantly leaner despite a high-fat diet. The study, which also involved researchers from the University of Leipzig and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, has now been published in the journal Nature.


International School on Advanced Immunology

Juni 21, 2022


We are pleased to announce that the ImmunoSensation2-IFReC International School on Advanced Immunology for early-career immunologists from all over the world premieres in Japan this year. The school is jointly organized by ImmunoSensation2 and the Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC) of Osaka University.


art@immunosensation: A Membrane between Science and Society

Mai 31, 2022


The Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 of the University of Bonn connects more than 500 researchers and promotes the interdisciplinary exchange of the participating scientists. The art project art@immunosensation adds a new level of reflection to this exchange. Together with scientists from the Cluster of Excellence, artists from the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences Alfter, under the direction of Prof. Willem-Jan Beeren (architecture) and Prof. Paul Petry (sculpture), are creating a so-called WALL-laboratory (WANDlabor) in the foyer of the Biomedical Center II (BMZII).


New insight into NLRP3-PYD filament formation

Mai 13, 2022


highly polar interface residues enable homomeric interaction of NLRP3-PYD filament
The inflammasome complex is able to sense intrinsic and extrinsic danger signals. Its activation induces an inflammatory response and pyroptotic cell death. Cluster Member Prof. Matthias Geyer and his team, together with colleagues from the University of Cologne, were now able to assign a directionality to NLRP3 filament formation. This finding has the potential to conceivably stop inflammation at the "growing end", and thus bring chronic inflammatory diseases to a halt. The study has now been published in the journal "Science Advances".


Tag der Immunologie - Vorträge und mehr

Mai 03, 2022


Zum Tag der Immunologie präsentierten die Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler des Exzellenzclusters ImmunoSensation2 am 30.04.2022 erneut ihre Forschung in der Bonner Innenstadt. Wer sich für die Immunologie interessierte, konnte hier einen direkten Einblick in aktuelle Forschungsprojekte erhalten und mit Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern ins Gespräch kommen. Darüber hinaus konnte selbst Hand angelegt und unter Anleitung DNA aus Bananen extrahiert werden, oder ein Blick in eines der übergroßen Organmodelle geworfen werden.


New approach against chronic inflammation

April 20, 2022


ASC-specks in mice targeted with nanobodies
Researchers of ImmunoSensation2 at the Universities of Bonn together with colleagues at the University of Sao Paulo have succeeded in mitigating chronic inflammation in mice using customized "mini-antibodies". These nanobodies enabled them to dissolve molecular complexes in tissue that normally activate the immune system. The nanobodies produced may in future help to slow down unwanted inflammatory reactions that cause diseases such as arthritis or neurodegeneration. The study is published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.


ImmunoSensation2 participates in research network CANTAR

April 14, 2022


CANTAR (CANcer TARgeting) research network funded with 19.4 million euros
The new research network CANTAR (CANcer TARgeting) in the field of oncology aims to develop new chemical substances to identify specific driving pathways of cancer and to explore how cancer can "escape" the immune system. The lead partner is the University of Cologne, with Humboldt Professor Dr. Henning Walczak of the Center for Biochemistry as designated spokesperson. Cluster Member Prof. Dr. Michael Hölzel, director of the Institute for Experimental Oncology at the University Hospital Bonn, is involved. CANTAR is funded with a total of 19.4 million euros for the funding period.


Surprising finding on the cause of hydrocephalus

April 05, 2022


Prof. Dr. Waldemar Kolanus, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2, together with an international team of scientists, shows that hydrocephalus is often caused by disrupted brain development.
Hydrocephalus in children often has completely different causes than previously assumed. This is the conclusion of an international study with a substantial participation by the University of Bonn. The researchers identified a series of mutations that cause disruption of early brain development. The characteristic enlargements of the fluid-filled cavities in the brain are a consequence of this. The study was led by Yale, Harvard and Bonn Universities; its findings also have implications for the diagnosis and treatment of this serious condition. The results are published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.


Felix Meißner receives prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant

März 15, 2022


The European Research Council is funding the Bonn professor of systems immunology and proteomics with around 2 million euros.

Inflammatory processes are a fundamental part of the body's defense system. But how are these processes regulated at the molecular level? How do the involved cell types coordinate their action? These are the questions that biochemist and systems immunologist Prof. Dr. Felix Meißner of the Bonn Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University Hospital Bonn is addressing. For his research, he now receives the coveted Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). The selected project of the Bonn professor will be funded with about 2 million euros.


"Science for Ukraine" - Information for Scientists

März 04, 2022


The Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at Bonn participates in the initiative "Science For Ukraine"
We are a research consortium focused on innate immunity and welcome researchers in this field at all early career stages. The Cluster Coordination Office can advise you on finding available positions in our groups and applying for funding, or arrange short-term internships. Housing is not available, but we can help find it. Just contact us!


New strategy for COVID-19 prophylaxis identified

März 03, 2022


Researchers of the Bonn Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 observe increased protection against severe COVID-19 courses through targeted stimulation of the RNA receptor RIG-I
The ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has caused an imminent urge for both antiviral therapeutical drugs and vaccines. While the development of vaccines was accomplished in a remarkably short timeframe, the identification of direct antiviral treatments has progressed comparatively slowly. In the light of the further risk of pandemics in the future, however, there remains need for direct antiviral drugs and treatments. Moreover, emerging immune-evasive SARS-CoV-2 variants are of concern.  These cause high numbers of infections even in a highly immunized population, underscoring the continuing need for effective antiviral drugs to treat COVID-19.
PhD student Samira Marx and her advisor Prof. Gunther Hartmann of the Institute of clinical chemistry and clinical pharmacology at the University Hospital Bonn, in collaboration with further members of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn  Prof. Eva Bartok, Prof. Martin Schlee, Prof. Hiroki Kato, and colleagues have now shown that prophylactic stimulation of the antiviral innate immune receptor RIG-I provides protection against lethal SARS-CoV-2 infections in mice and reduces disease severity. The work has recently been published in the journal Molecular Therapy – Nucleic Acids.


Casein may contribute to MS development

März 01, 2022


Cow's milk protein triggers autoimmune response, inducing neuronal damage in mice

Patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) often complain of more severe disease symptoms after consuming dairy products. Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn, together with colleagues at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, have now found a possible cause for this: Casein, a protein in cow's milk, can trigger inflammation that damages myelin sheaths around nerve cells. The study was able to demonstrate this link in mice, but also found evidence of a similar mechanism in humans. The researchers therefore recommend that certain groups of affected individuals avoid dairy products. The study has now been published in the journal PNAS.


AI-driven facial analysis improves diagnosis

Februar 11, 2022


Researchers at the University of Bonn use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect rare diseases even more accurately

Rare genetic diseases can sometimes be recognized through facial features, such as characteristically shaped brows, nose or cheeks. Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 have now trained software that uses portrait photos to better diagnose such diseases. The study has now been published in the journal "Nature Genetics".


Molecular Structure of human NLRP3 solved

Februar 04, 2022


Elucidating the structure of a central inflammatory switch provides the basis for the development of powerful anti-inflammatory therapeutic tools

ImmunoSensation2 Member Prof. Matthias Geyer and his team, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Regensburg, have solved the structure of a central cellular inflammatory switch: NLRP3. Cryo Electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM) analysis revealed NLRP3 to form a decameric structure when incubated with the inhibitor CRID3 (Cytokine Release Inhibitory Drug 3). Identifying the CRID3 binding-site as well as solving the overall structure of human NLRP3 now provides the basis to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms leading to activation of NLRP3, as well es the development of potent anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals. The results are published in the journal Nature.


Tumor Cell Plasticity in Therapy Resistance

Januar 18, 2022


Prof. Dr. Michael Hölzel, Member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn receives project funding of 1.5 million euros provided by the German Cancer Aid.
Cancer cells can constantly change and in this way evade the immune system. Prof. Dr. Michael Hölzel from the Institute of Experimental Oncology at the University of Bonn is developing an immunotherapy against black skin cancer: He wants to use "smart" immune cells to get a grip on the tumor cells that are currently trying to make themselves invisible. German Cancer Aid is funding the project with 1.5 million euros over the next five years as part of its new "Excellence Funding Program for Established Scientists".


Alzheimer’s: Inflammatory markers conspicuous at an early stage

Januar 12, 2022


Evidence of damage and neuroprotective processes long before symptoms of dementia manifest
Long before the onset of dementia, there is evidence for increased activity of the brain’s immune system. Researchers from the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 of the DZNE and Bonn University come to this conclusion based on a study of more than 1,000 older adults. To this end, various proteins were measured in the cerebrospinal fluid: They served as so-called biomarkers that indicate inflammatory processes of the nervous system. As it turned out, some of these molecules seem to be part of a damage control program of the immune system, which could be useful for the development of new drugs. The study results have been published in the scientific journal “Neuron”.