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

    Sabrina Muehlen


    + 49 531 6181-5706

    + 49 531 6181-5709


    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:

    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.





  • Prof Dr Petra Dersch

    Petra Dersch

    Head of the Department Molecular Infection Biology

    +49 531 6181-5700

    +49 531 6181-5709


    CV and Publications


Audio Podcast

  • Bakterien mit Thermometer - Vom Kühlschrank in den Körper
    Yersinien 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...