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Kevin Ciminski & Team

Project 1: Studying the function of neuraminidase-like proteins

Influenza A viruses (IAVs) are intracellular parasites, that replicate in and spread to neighboring host cells. For this, IAV particles bear hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) glycoproteins on their surface that mediate entry to and subsequent release from an infected cell, respectively. Based on the antigenic properties of HA and NA, IAVs are classically classified into 16 different HA and nine different NA subtypes. It is well understood that these classical HA molecules attach to sialic-acid glycan receptors for initiation of the infection, whereas classical NAs possess a sialidase activity that allows for cleavage of these glycan structures at the end of the viral life cycle.
In contrast, the surface glycoprotein homologs of the recently discovered New World bat IAVs H17N10 and H18N11 (H17 and H18 HA and N10 and N11 NA) lack the canonical functions of their classical counterparts. While our group could recently show that H17 and H18 HA utilize MHC-II molecules for cell entry, the role of N10 and N11 NA remains largely obscure. In this project, our research focuses on the identification of the function of the NA-like proteins N10 and N11 and their contribution within the viral life cycle.  


Project 2: Deciphering bat-specific innate immune responses to bat flu infection

Over the past years, bats have attracted more attention for being hosts to a plethora of zoonotic viruses, including Nipha, Ebola and Marburg virus as well as SARS and MERS coronaviruses. The most recent finding was the ability of bats to harbor influenza A viruses (IAVs). Intriguingly, spillover infections of these bat-borne viruses, from their natural host to humans, can result in severe disease and are often lethal due to a dysregulated immune response, whereas infections of bats proceed asymptomatically. With our recently published bat IAV H18N11 infection model in the Jamaican fruit bat (Artibeus jamaicensis), we have established the only bat infection model reflecting a natural infection. In this project, we seek to better understand the immunity of Jamaican fruit bats and their ability to asymptomatically withstand virus infection.


Project Funding

EQUIP - Medical scientist programme


Team Leader


Kevin Ciminski (Post doc),

Phone: +49 761 203 6579


PhD Student

Susanne Kessler,

Phone: +49 761 203 6591


MD Student

Lea Hamberger

Phone: +49 761 203 6591



located in


Prof. Dr. med. Hartmut Hengel


Kristina Gendrisch
Telefon: 0761 203-6534
Telefax: 0761 203-6626
E-Mail: kristina.gendrisch@uniklinik-freiburg.de

Gudrun Simpson
Telefon: 0761 203-6511
Telefax: 0761 203-6562
E-Mail: mailto:gudrun.simpson@uniklinik-freiburg.de

Information Desk:
Jutta Schneeberger
Telefon: 0761 203-6510
Telefax: 0761 203-6562
E-Mail: jutta.schneeberger@uniklinik-freiburg.de