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RA V Environmental Exposition of Barriers: Microbiome, Virome and Mucosa


The human host is in continuous contact to a microbiota-laden environment and clear evidence for a host-genetic control of the resident microflora has been presented. Recent data have added the virome as another layer of complexity in this concept. We hypothesize that the physiological co-evolved microbial and viral communities on epithelial interfaces can be considered as a metaorganism (i.e. the human host together with all its associated microorganisms and viruses) and that the homeostasis of the microbiome-virome-host triad is disturbed in many chronic inflammatory diseases. The group conjoins interdisciplinary players and resources from evolutionary biology, microbiology and structural biology to clinical research and aims to investigate the microbiome and virome as an extended, intermediate phenotype of human barrier pathophysiology in different inflammatory diseases and models. The project has developed from different RAs of the 1st FP and thrives from technological innovation in the structural biology field and sequence analysis. Ultimately, the results may define intervention targets involved in the host-microbiome-virome crosstalk that can be modulated and employed as novel therapeutic principles in chronic inflammatory diseases.

Contribution to the Scientific Discourse

The collaborators investigate genome-environment and genome-genome (host-microbiome-virome) interactions at epithelial barriers that –together with genetic predisposition - play a decisive role in the etiology of chronic inflammatory diseases. The functional impact of the host-microbiome-virome triad will be investigated in collaborative projects focusing on: (1) the structural and functional basis of host-virome interactions at epithelial barriers on a systematic scale, (2) function of signaling networks governing the interaction between the host and its associated microbiota and viruses in health and inflammatory diseases and (3) modulatory principles of this molecular crosstalk and their potential therapeutic application in inflammatory states.

Figure: Schematic depiction of the host/microbiome/virome triad

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