Visual Universitätsmedizin Mainz

Research interest

The host-specific cytomegaloviruses (CMV) are large DNA virus of the beta-herpesvirus family. After acute infection CMV genomes remain life-long in host tissue in a state of replicative latency, which is interrupted by episodes of transcriptional reactivation. The establishment of latency is the result of long-time co-evolution of CMV and their respective host. During this, virus and host have established a fine balance of immune evasion and immune control to maintain latency. Under conditions of immunosuppression productive infection can occur by reactivation of the productive cycle of latent genomes. Primary infection or infection upon reactivation can induce life-threatening diseases, e.g. interstitial pneumonia in immuno-compromised patients following hematopoietic (stem) cell transplantation (HCT).

The major research topic of our group is the study of the establishment of acute and latent CMV infection in a murine model. We aim at understanding the molecular and immunological basis of CMV control by the immune system and the counteractions of the virus that lead to the establishment of latency. 


Viral modulation of immune cells and 'inbetweeners' (CRC1292 TP11)

Viral immune evasion in acute and latent infection

New strategies of antiviral immunotherapy


PD Dr. rer. physiol. et med habil. Niels Lemmermann 
Phone +49 (0) 6131 17-9184

PubMed link 


Sara Becker (Doktorandin equivalent to PhD-student)
Phone +49 (0) 6131 17-9184

Julia Schmiedeke (Doktorandin equivalent to PhD-student)
Phone +49 (0) 6131 17-9184

Angélique Renzaho (Technician)
Phone +49 (0)6131 17-9296


  • Generation of mCMV recombinants (shuttle plasmids, en-passant mutagenesis, markerless mutagenesis)
  • Real-time quantitation of viral genomes in cells and organs during acute infection and latency
  • Quantitative gene expression analysis during acute infection and latency
  • Quantitation of infectious virus in organs 
  • Experimental bone marrow transplantation (syngeneic, allogeneic) for the establishment of viral latency
  • In vivo growth curves
  • Ex vivo explant cultures
  • ELISpot analyses of virus-specific CD8 T-cells
  • Adoptive transfer of virus-specific CD8 T-cells
  • Animal models of CMV-disease