Understanding host-virus interactions is an essential step in developing safe and effective antimicrobials against existing and newly emerging pathogens. The early detection of invading viruses by the host depends on a limited number of specific receptors that detect viral patterns and activate signaling cascades, thereby triggering interferon (IFN)-mediated antiviral defense mechanisms. Intracellular innate immune receptors, such as RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) and the intracellular viral DNA sensors cGAS and IFI16, detect a variety of RNA and DNA viruses including influenza virus, measles virus, dengue virus and herpesviruses. In addition, members of the tripartite motif (TRIM) protein family play a major role in the antiviral host response.
Research in the Gack laboratory seeks a better understanding of the cell-intrinsic mechanisms underlying the host innate immune response against viral infections. Another area of our research focuses on the detailed mechanisms by which viral pathogens – influenza viruses, measles virus, dengue virus and herpesviruses – suppress the innate immune system. The Gack laboratory uses an integrative approach that combines RNAi screens and proteomics with molecular, biochemical, and cell-biological approaches as well as viral infection studies including reverse genetics systems for the generation of recombinant mutant viruses.