Molecular Infection Biology

Gastrointestinal infections are counted among the most common types of infectious diseases worldwide. In particular in developing countries, diarrhoeal diseases are still a leading course of death. Indeveloped countries, diarrhoeal diseases are under better control, but they still represent a very common affliction, especially among children and the elderly. Among the most important bacterial pathogens of food-animal origin are Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, and enteropathogenic Yersinia species. Their primary route of transmission from animals to humans is through contaminated food. Once inside our bodies, they trigger an impressive range of different intestinal disorders from diarrhoea to acute infections of the small and large intestines – at times with severe consequences! Our primary focus is on Yersinia. We study the ways in which these bacteria adhere to the intestinal epithelium, penetrate it, and ultimately spread within the host.



Dr. Sabrina Mühlen


Curriculum Vitae

Education and Employment

* 2000 - 2003

Bachelor of Science in Cell Biology at the University of Osnabrück

BSc Thesis "Characterization of the nucleotide-binding domain of KdpB of Escherichia coli using site-directed mutagenesis"

* 2003 - 2004

Studies abroad in Microbiology  and Biochemistry at the University of Victoria, Canada

* 2004 - 2005

Master of Science in Cell Biology at the University of Osnabrück

MSc Thesis "Characteristics of the novel Streptomyces reticuli heme-binding protein HbpS"

* 2005 - 2008

PhD at the Ruprecht-Karls University of Heidelberg and at the Helmholtz International Graduate School for Cancer Research

PhD Thesis "Influence of Human Papillomavirus Early Proteins on the expression of tumor-progression promoting genes"

* 2009 - 2011

Postdoc at the Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Newcastle University, UK

* 2011 - 2014

Postdoc in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne, Australia

since August 2014

Postdoc at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Department of Molecular Infection Biology (Prof. Dr. Petra Dersch)


Selected Publications:

Pearson JS, Giogha C, Mühlen S, Nachbur U, Pham CL, Zhang Y, Hildebrand JM, Oates CV, Lung TW, Ingle D, Dagley LF, Bankovacki A, Petrie EJ, Schroeder GN, Crepin VF, Frankel G, Masters SL, Vince J, Murphy JM, Sunde M, Webb AI, Silke J, Hartland EL (2017). EspL is a bacterial cysteine protease effector that cleaves RHIM proteins to block necroptosis and inflammation. Nat Microbiol. 2017 Jan 13; 2:16258.

Creuzburg K, Giogha C, Wong Fok Lung T, Scott NE, Mühlen S, Hartland EL, Pearson JS (2016). The Type III effector NIeD from enteropathogenic E. coli differentiates between host substrates p38 and JNK. Infect Immun. 2015 Nov 21. pii:IAI.00620-16

Zhang Y, Mühlen S, Oates CV, Pearson JS, Hartland EL (2016). Identification of a distinct substrate binding domain in the bacterial cysteine methyltransferase effectors NleE and OspZ. J Biol Chem. 2016 Jul 21.

Giogha C, Wong Fok Lung T, Mühlen S, Pearson JS, Hartland EL (2015). Substrate recognition by the zinc metalloprotease effector NleC from enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. Cell Microbiol. 2015 Jun 11.

Nachbur U, Stafford CA, Bankovacki A, Zhan Y, Lindqvist LM, Fiil BK, Khakham Y, Ko HJ, Sandow JJ, Falk H, Holien JK, Chau D, Hildebrand J, Vince JE, Sharp PP, Webb Al, Jackman KA, Mühlen S, Kennedy CL, Lowes KN, Murphy JM, Gyrd-Hansen M, Parker MW, Hartland EL, Lew AM, Huang DC, Lessene G, Silke J (2015). A RIPK2 inhibitor delays NOD signaling events yet prevents inflammatory cytokine production. Nat Commun. 2015 Mar 17;6:6442.

Pearson JS, Giogha C, Ong SY, Kennedy CL, Kelly M, Robinson KS, Wong T, Mansell A, Riedmaier P, Oates CVL, Zaid A, Mühlen S, Crepin VF, Marches O, Ang CS, Williamson NA, O'Reilly LA, Bankovacki A, Nachbur U, Infusini G, Webb A, Silke J, Strasser A, Frankel G, and Hartland EL (2013). A type III effector antagonises death receptor signalling during bacterial gut infection. Nature. 2013 Sep 12:501(7466):247-51.

Ruchaud-Sparagano MH, Mühlen S, and Kenny B (2011). The enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) Tir effector protein inhibits NFKB activation by targeting TRAF adaptor proteins. PloS Pathogens. 2011 Dec:7(12):e1002414.

Mühlen S, Ruchaud-Sparagano MH, and Kenny B (2010). Protasome-independent degradation of canonical NFKB complex components by the NleC protein of pathogenic E. coli. J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 18:286(7):5100-7.





Audio Podcast

  • Bakterien mit Thermometer - Vom Kühlschrank in den KörperYersinien machen uns Bauchschmerzen. Wenn wir die Bakterien mit verseuchtem Fleisch zu uns nehmen, infizieren sie unsere Darmzellen und vermehren sich. Aber wie wissen die Yersinien, dass sie nicht mehr in der vergammelten Wurst sind sondern in unserem Körper? Die Antwort ist simpel: Die Bakterien haben ein Thermometer. Hören Sie zu, wie das funktioniert...
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