Illuminating the hidden power of cell-autonomous immunity
The Sixt lab uses innovative approaches to illuminate the hidden power of cell-autonomous immunity. Many clinically significant pathogens have the capacity to invade eukaryotic cells and to exploit the interior of their host cell as a protected growth niche. Human cells have an intrinsic ability to detect such microbial invaders and to launch cellular defense responses that can destroy the pathogen or limit its replication or spread. This ancient branch of the human defense system is known as cell-autonomous immunity. However, in the evolutionary arms race, intracellular pathogens often have evolved effective countermeasures.
The Sixt lab strives to uncover the hidden protective potential of pathogen-suppressed cellular defense programs, to identify the molecular determinants of host defense and pathogenic countermeasures, and to find means to disturb their balance to the benefit of the host. We thereby aim to advance our understanding of molecular determinants of host-pathogen interactions and to develop novel innovative strategies for combatting infectious diseases.
Our current research focuses primarily on the obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis, which is the most frequent bacterial agent of sexually transmitted diseases, infertility, and blindness. To achieve our goals we apply state-of-the-art tools in molecular genetics and microscopic imaging, as well as high-throughput genetic and compound screening approaches.
Human epithelial cells infected with the intracellular bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis (bacteria (green), host cell nuclei (red), host cytoplasmic pathogen-associated molecular pattern sensor protein STING (white); confocal fluorescence microscopic image).
Updated information about our research projects can be found at the Sixt Lab Website.