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Prof. Dr. Martin Schlee


Institute of Clinical Chemistry & Clinical Pharmacology

Medical Faculty, University of Bonn University Hospital of Bonn Sigmund-Freud-Strasse 25 53127 Bonn

+49 228 28716080


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.

Recent publications

  • Chronic endoplasmic reticulum stress in myotonic dystrophy type 2 promotes autoimmunity via mitochondrial DNA release.

    Nature communications

    Authors: Sarah Rösing, Fabian Ullrich, Susann Meisterfeld, Franziska Schmidt, Laura Mlitzko, Marijana Croon, Ryan G Nattrass, Nadia Eberl, Julia Mahlberg, Martin Schlee, Anja Wieland, Philipp Simon, Daniel Hilbig, Ulrike Reuner, Alexander Rapp, Julia Bremser, Peter Mirtschink, Stephan Drukewitz, Thomas Zillinger, Stefan Beissert, Katrin Paeschke, Gunther Hartmann, Aleksandra Trifunovic, Eva Bartok, Claudia Günther

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  • Publication categories: Top publication

    A conserved isoleucine in the binding pocket of RIG-I controls immune tolerance to mitochondrial RNA.

    Nucleic acids research

    Authors: Ann Kristin de Regt, Kanchan Anand, Katrin Ciupka, Felix Bender, Karl Gatterdam, Bastian Putschli, David Fusshöller, Daniel Hilbig, Alexander Kirchhoff, Charlotte Hunkler, Steven Wolter, Agathe Grünewald, Christina Wallerath, Christine Schuberth-Wagner, Janos Ludwig, Katrin Paeschke, Eva Bartok, Gregor Hagelueken, Gunther Hartmann, Thomas Zillinger, Matthias Geyer, Martin Schlee

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  • Influenza A Infection Stimulates RIG-I and Enhances Effector Function of Primary Human NK Cells.

    International journal of molecular sciences

    Authors: Adham Abuelola Mohamed, Sofía Soler, Julia Wegner, Eva Bartok, Sanda Stankovic, Andrew G Brooks, Martin Schlee

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