Arbeitsgruppe Prof. Dr. Hans-Dieter Klenk
Prof. Dr. Hans-Dieter
Institut für Virologie
Phone: ++49 6421 / 28-66191/66254
Fax: ++49 6421 / 28-68962
Description of Scientific Projects:
Mechanisms of pathogenicity and host adaptation of influenza
(see also SFB 593)Wild aquatic birds are the natural hosts for a large variety of influenza A viruses. Occasionally viruses are transmitted from this reservoir to other species and may then cause devastating outbreaks in domestic poultry or give rise to human influenza pandemics. Host range and pathogenicity are polygenic traits depending on the interaction of different viral proteins with specific host factors. It has long been known that proteolytic activation and receptor specificity of the hemagglutinin are important determinants for pathogenicity and interspecies transmission, respecitively. Evidence is increasing that the viral polymerase, an enzyme that has to enter into the nucleus of the infected cell in order to promote replication and transcription of the viral genome, is also a major determinant of host range. We could show that adaptation of the polymerase to host factors is an important mechanism underlying interspecies transmission, and we have identified importin α, a component of the nuclear pore complex, as such a host factor. The non-structural viral protein NS1, another determinant of host range and pathogenicity, is also in the focus of our studies.