Complement evasion of pathogens

Complement as the central homeotic system of mammals and as the first defense line of innate immunity recognizes, attacks, damages and ultimately eliminates foreign invaders. These infectious microbes are eliminated by the host immune attack but in contrast pathogenic microbes escape the host immune attack. The innate immune response of the human host acts directly and immediately and all infectious pathogens including fungi, Gram negative-, as well as Gram positive bacteria, and protozoa always face the same innate immune response. In order to survive and to establish an infection in such an immunocompetent host, all these diverse pathogens have evolved evasion strategies to combat, control and inactivate the damaging and destructive host innate immune and complement response. The Department of Infection Biology analyses the immune evasion response of pathogenic Gram positive bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, andGram negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Borrelia burgdorferi, pathogenic fungi and Plasmodium falciparum. One aspect of our work is to identify central microbial immune evasion proteins and virulence factors and to define their molecular mode of action. In addition, we are interested  in identifying common evasion principles used and shared by the pathogenic microbes to combat host innate immune response and complement attacks. Identifying and defining the action of proteins involved in this intense immune interaction and understanding how these molecules interact is of relevance to develop new control strategies.

Cluster of cell receptors and their signal transduction as shown here for the B-cell receptor (red) and the co-receptor complex with complement receptor 2 (CD 21) (green) on B cells by confocal microscopy represents a target for microbial proteins.


Andrea Hartmann
Cláudia S. J. Vilhena


Quimque MT, Notarte KI, Letada A, Fernandez RA, Pilapil DY, Pueblos KR, Agbay JC, Dahse HM, Wenzel-Storjohann A, Tasdemir D, Khan A, Wei DQ, Gose Macabeo AP (2021) Potential cancer- and alzheimer's disease-targeting phosphodiesterase inhibitors from Uvaria alba: Insights from in vitro and consensus virtual screening. ACS Omega 6(12), 8403-8417.