IFIB – Interfakultäres Institut für Biochemie



New DFG Research Unit “VIROCARB” will investigate how glycans control viral infections

The overall goal of the new DFG research unit FOR2327 VIROCARB is to define the role of glycans in viral infections. Glycans help to mediate diverse biological processes, including cell-cell recognition, cell growth and differentiation, neoplastic transformation and cell death. The precise function of glycans in many of these processes is poorly understood, in part due to the limited availability of biologically relevant synthetic glycans and technical challenges in their analysis, including interactions with proteins. VIROCARB will focus on studying the functions of specific glycan structures in establishing virus infections. The focus will be on three families of non-enveloped viruses: Caliciviruses, Polyomaviruses, and Papillomaviruses. All three viruses include human pathogens, and in all three cases glycans play critical roles in cell attachment and determining host range and tropism. The goals are to first define the parameters that, at the atomic level, guide glycan-binding for members of each of these virus families, and, subsequently, use this knowledge to develop novel compounds with inhibitory and thus antiviral activities. Moreover, a detailed understanding of glycan receptor interactions will also be used to uncover strategies that allow viruses to switch receptor specificities and alter their host tropism. The long-term objective of VIROCARB is to establish new concepts in non-enveloped virus replication

The multidisciplinary research unit is coordinated at the IFIB in Tübingen. The consortium links experts from different areas of glycovirology that are currently distributed throughout Germany and have expertise in structural biology, cell biology, infection models as well as chemical synthesis and mass spectrometry.


Prof. Dr. Thilo Stehle

University of Tübingen

Interfaculty Institute of Biochemistry
Phone +49 (0)7071 29-73043 /29-76390


Link to press release (in german)

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