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Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Virulence

Prof. Dr. Michael Hensel, Dipl.-Biol.

Prof. Dr. Michael Hensel, Dipl.-Biol.

Contact details


The Hensel research group investigates molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenicity. Using the gastrointestinal pathogen Salmonella enterica as model system, mechanisms of host cell recognition and binding, cell invasion, and intracellular lifestyle in host cells are investigated. The special properties of the typhoid pathogen are investigated. Dynamic interactions between pathogen and host cells are analysed at single cell level. Understanding these interactions contributes to the development of new strategies for prevention and therapy of infectious diseases.

Research topics

  • Manipulation of host cells by bacterial virulence proteins
  • Function of bacterial protein secretion systems
  • Structure-function relationship of bacterial adhesion factors
  • Mechanisms of invasion of polarised epithelial cells
  • Reorganisation of the endosomal system of host cells by intracellular Salmonella

Model systems

  • Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and isogenic mutants
  • Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and Paratyphi A
  • Murine and human cell lines and primary cells
  • Polarised epithelial cells
  • Intestinal organoids


  • advanced bacterial genetics
  • single cell analyses
  • live cell imaging of infection
  • correlative light and electron microscopy
  • Proteomics

Selected publications

Reuter T, Scharte F, Franzkoch R, Liss V, Hensel M. Single cell analyses reveal distinct adaptation of typhoidal and non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica serovars to intracellular lifestyle. PLoS pathogens. 2021;17(6):e1009319. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009319. pdf

Göser V, Kommnick C, Liss V, Hensel M. Self-labeling enzyme tags for analyses of translocation of type III secretion system effector proteins. mBio. 2019;10(3). DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00769-19. pdf

Liss V, Swart AL, Kehl A, Hermanns N, Zhang Y, Chikkaballi D, et al. Salmonella enterica remodels the host cell endosomal system for efficient intravacuolar nutrition. Cell Host Microbe. 2017;21(3):390-402. DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.02.005. pdf

Further principal investigators

Dr. Gabriele Deckers-Hebestreit (retired)

Dr. Jörg Deiwick