Medical Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology 

Research Group Prof. Dr. Christine Josenhans

The group led by Prof. C. Josenhans joined the Max von Pettenkofer Institute in the fall 2017.

The gastrointestinal tract of humans and most vertebrate organisms is at the same time the largest body surface, colonization niche of a variety of different microbes, as well as the most important barrier and entry point of gastrointestinal and some systemic pathogens. Gastrointestinal pathogens, in particular bacteria, are adapted in a specific manner to the mucosal niche of the gut and stomach lining. They assemble complex secretion systems, which help them to be motile within the mucus, and establish contact and interactions with the host and local host cells. Likewise, they possess metabolic and other factors, which enable them to compete with the resident microbiota of the gut and surmount colonization resistance. In addition, they are able, with the help of specific factors and functions, to influence the composition of the resident microbiota and the inflammatory response of the local tissues, in order to govern their own temporal and spatial persistence within the niche.

Major scientific interest in the Josenhans lab is on the host innate immune response towards gastrointestinal pathogens and its modulation. In this context, the modulatory activity of bacterial complex secretion systems (type 3, type 4, type 6) on the host cell is investigated, including the biochemical and structural characterization of its protein components. The lab also addresses questions concerned with gene and protein regulation and modification in host and pathogen, also during the infectious process. A second focus is placed on host modulation by pathogens and the modulation of inflammatory diseases, also with respect to environmental factors, including the resident gastrointestinal microbiota. Main model systems to study chronic and acute gastrointestinal bacterial pathogens are the human pathogens Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni as well as the chronic mouse gut pathogen Helicobacter hepaticus, which can serve as a model for chronic inflammatory diseases. We also place a major emphasis on the factors that activate and modulate the host innate immune system (human but also others), and, on the host side, the receptors and signal transduction pathways that are invoved in the host innate immune response.


Prof. Dr. Christine Josenhans

Prof. Josenhans received a professorship for Medical Microbiology at LMU/Max von Pettenkofer in 2017. Before, she was a professor for Medical Microbiology and Microbial Genomics at Hannover Medical School since 2008. She acquired her central scientific expertise, about bacterial genomics, motility, sensory systems, molecular host-pathogen interactions, and innate immunity/host receptors and responses, during two post-doctoral periods in Bochum and Brussels and her habilitation time at the University of Würzburg. In addition to her scientific work, Prof. Josenhans also emphasizes the support of early-career (postgraduate) researchers and has held various leading functions in the organization of graduate programs.

Group Members

Current members

Bats Simon Hendrik Dr. Dipl. Biochemiker
Phone: +49 89 2180-72827/72843

Faass Larissa, Master of Science
Phone: +49 89 2180-72842/72843

Hauke Martina, Master of Science
Phone: +49 89 2180-72859

Josenhans Christine Prof. Dr. Dipl. Biologin
Phone: +49 89 2180-72826

Metz Felix, Master of Science
Phone: +49 89 2180-72859

Patel Lubna, Master of Science
Phone: +49 89 2180-72879

Sedlmaier-Erlenfeld Bettina, MTLA
Phone: +49 89 2180-72842/72843


My laboratory comprehensively investigates the scientific area host-pathogen interactions. A focus is on chronic infectious agents of the Epsilonproteobacteria, which comprise Helicobacter and Campylobacter species, colonizing the gastrointestinal tract. Thee research area and methodology include detailed genomics analyses of host and (bacterial) pathogen, including modern OMICs technologies and bioinformatics. In addition, bacterial properties and factors, ranging from metabolic and structural features to metabolism, involved in their host-associated biology and their regulation is constantly explored. On the host side, the particular interest lies in sensory features, innate immune receptors and response pathways, and immunometabolism. The latter mechanisms are being explored in cell systems, knock/out cells and selected animal models. Host-pathogen interactions in the gastrointestinal niche also include the study of microbiota composition and effects as an important factor.


Top 10 Publications


Yang I, Woltemate S, Piazuelo MB, Bravo LE, Yepez MC, Romero-Gallo J, Delgado AG, Wilson KT, Peek RM, Correa P, Josenhans C, Fox JG & Suerbaum S (2016) Different gastric microbiota compositions in two human populations with high and low gastric cancer risk in Colombia. Sci Rep 5;6:e18594.
Behrens W, Schweinitzer T, McMurry, JL, Loewen PC, Buettner FFR, Menz S & Josenhans C (2016) Localisation and protein-protein interactions of the Helicobacter pylori taxis sensor TlpD and their connection to metabolic functions. Sci Rep 6:23582. doi: 10.1038/srep23582.
Stein SC, Faber E, Bats, SH, Murillo T, Speidel Y, Coombs N & Josenhans C (2017) Helicobacter pylori modulates host cell responses by CagT4SS-dependent translocation of an intermediate metabolite of LPS inner core heptose biosynthesis. Plos Pathogens 13(7):e1006514. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006514.
Faber E, Tedin K, Speidel Y, Brinkmann MM, Josenhans C (2018) Functional expression of TLR5 of different vertebrate species and diversification in intestinal pathogen recognition. Sci Rep. 8(1):11287. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-29371-0.
Bats SH, Bergé C, Coombs N, Terradot L, Josenhans C (2018) Biochemical characterization of the Helicobacter pylori Cag Type 4 Secretion System protein CagN and its interaction partner CagM. Int J Med Microbiol. 308(4):425-437. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2018.02.005.
Estibariz I, Ailloud F, Woltemate S, Bunk B, Spröer C, Overmann J, Aebischer T, Meyer TF, Josenhans C*, Suerbaum S* (2020) In Vivo Genome and Methylome Adaptation of cag-Negative Helicobacter pylori during Experimental Human Infection. mBio 11(4):e01803-20. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01803-20.


Kennemann L, Didelot X, Aebischer T., Kuhn S, Drescher B., Droege M, Reinhardt R, Correa P, Meyer TF, Josenhans C, Falush D & Suerbaum S (2011) Helicobacter pylori genome evolution during human infection. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:5033-5038.
Faber E, Gripp E, Maurischat S, Kaspers B, Tedin K, Menz S, Zuraw A, Kershaw O, Yang I, Rautenschlein S & Josenhans C (2015) Novel Immunomodulatory Flagellin-Like Protein FlaC in Campylobacter jejuni and Other Campylobacterales. mSphere 1(1). pii: e00028-15. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00028-15.


Lee SK, Stack A, Katzowitsch E, Aizawa SI, Suerbaum S & Josenhans C (2003) Helicobacter pylori flagellins have very low intrinsic activity to stimulate human gastric epithelial cells via TLR5. Microbes Infect 5:1345-1356.
Olbermann P§, Josenhans C§, Moodley Y, Uhr M, Stamer C, Vauterin M, Suerbaum S, Achtman M & Linz B (2010) A global overview of the genetic and functional diversity in the Helicobacter pylori cag pathogenicity island. PLoS Genet 6:e1001069. § joint first authors



  • Dimitri Pscheniza (M.Sc.)
  • Saskia C. Stein (Ph.D.)
  • Christian v. Witzendorff (Dr. med.)
  • Eugenia Faber (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Eugenia Gripp (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Wiebke Behrens (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Nina Coombs (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Tobias Bönig (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Lucie Bartonickova (, Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Tobias Schweinitzer (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Patrick Olbermann (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Melanie Rust-Gerlach (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Anna Leybo (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Torsten Sterzenbach (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Fang Ye (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Tanja Brauer (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Tanja Schrappe (Dr. med.)
  • Eike Niehus (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • André Schmitz (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Sae-Kyung Lee (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • Yvonne Speidel
  • Kerstin Ellrott
  • Isabelle Riedel
  • Sarah Menz
  • Daniela Hlahla
  • Verena Ryan
  • Elena Katzowitsch
  • Daniela Urlaub
  • Steffi Amersbach