Area of Research

The persistent infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a deadly disease that can only be controlled by life-long antiretroviral therapy. The immune system fails to eliminate the infection with HIV due to the multitude of viral strategies to evade the innate and cellular host responses. Several immune evasion strategies of HIV are directly linked to the viral envelope protein. The viral envelope protein mediates the fusion of the virus with uninfected cells and thereby is essential for establishing and sustaining an infection with HIV. With the envelope protein being the only viral protein on the surface of HIV, it is the single point of attack for the immune system. However, only small numbers of envelope proteins are integrated into the viral membrane, the sequence of the envelope protein is highly variable, and the envelope protein is hidden under a dense coat of host-derived sugars (=glycans) of varying composition.

In the Karsten Lab, we try to understand why in rare cases infected individuals develop an antibody response capable of overcoming the glycan coat of HIV and other viruses. We investigate in detail the qualitative properties of antibody responses capable of controlling or limiting viral infections with particular focus on non-neutralizing antibody mediated immune functions. The results of these studies are applied to develop new HIV vaccine candidates with glycan coats optimized for the induction of protective antibodies.

Assistant Professor Dr. Christina B. Karsten

IG1, Room 2.050

Tel. 0201/723-4205

Fax 0201/723-5543

Lab Members

Laura Pott

B.Sc., Student Assistant

Room 2.050A

Tel. 0201/723-4225

Janine Parreuter

​Janine Parreuter 

Technical Assistant

Room 2.054

Tel. 0201/723-4052

Gwen Appeltrath-neu

Gwenllian Ann Appeltrath, M.Sc.

PhD Student

Room 2.051

Tel. 0201/723-4050

Johanna Freyberger

Doctoral Candidate 

Room 2.049

Tel. 0201/723-4758

Rody Ibrahim
Rody Ibrahim

Student Assistant

Paula Busskamp-Castro

Master Student



  • Appeltrath, Gwenllian A.; Parreuter, Janine; Lindemann, Monika; Klump, Hannes; Karsten, Christina B.
    An efficient ELISA protocol for measurement of SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific IgG in human plasma and serum samples
    In: MethodsX Vol. 12 (2024) 102596
  • 2023

  • Elsner, Carina; Appeltrath, Gwenllian A.; Konik, Margarethe; Parreuter, Janine; Bröcker-Preuß, Martina; Krawczyk, Adalbert; Esser, Stefan; Sammet, Stefanie; Karsten, Christina B.
    False-Positive Screening and Confirmatory HIV Diagnostic Test in a Patient with Cured SARS-CoV-2 Infection Is Not Mediated by Env/Spike Cross-Reactive Antibodies
    In: Viruses Vol. 15 (2023) Nr. 5, 1161
  • Elsner, Carina; Konik, Margarethe; Appeltrath, Gwenllian A.; Krause, Jil; Broecker-Preuss, Martina; Krawczyk, Adalbert; Dittmer, Ulf; Esser, Stefan; Sammet, Stefanie; Karsten, Christina B.;
    False-positive HIV diagnosis post SARSCoV-2 infection : a case report
    DÖAK 2023 / German-Austrian AIDS Conference, Bonn, Germany, 23-25 March 2023,
    In: HIV Medicine Vol. 24 (2023) Nr. 1, pp. 90
  • Karakoese, Zehra; Schwerdtfeger, Mara; Karsten, Christina; Esser, Stefan; Dittmer, Ulf; Sutter, Kathrin;
    Distinct type I interferon subtypes differentially stimulate T cell responses in HIV1-infected individuals
    DÖAK 2023 / German-Austrian AIDS Conference, Bonn, Germany, 23-25 March 2023,
    In: HIV Medicine Vol. 24 (2023) Nr. 1, pp. 92
  • 2022

  • Karakoese, Zehra; Schwerdtfeger, Mara; Karsten, Christina; Esser, Stefan; Dittmer, Ulf; Sutter, Kathrin
    Distinct Type I Interferon Subtypes Differentially Stimulate T Cell Responses in HIV-1-Infected Individuals
    In: Frontiers in Immunology Vol. 13 (2022) 936918
  • Karsten, Christina B.; Bartsch, Yannic C.; Shin, Sally A.; Slein, Matthew D.; Heller, Howard M.; Kolandaivelu, Kumaran; Middeldorp, Jaap M.; Alter, Galit; Julg, Boris
    Evolution of functional antibodies following acute Epstein-Barr virus infection
    In: PLoS Pathogens Vol. 18 (2022) Nr. 9, e1010738
  • 2021

  • Karsten, Christina
    Die HIV-Pandemie : Ein Problem weltweit, auch in Deutschland
    In: Unikate: Berichte aus Forschung und Lehre (2021) Nr. 56 : "Junge Wilde" - Die nächste Generation, pp. 40 - 49
  • 2019

  • Karsten, Christina B.; Mehta, Nickita; Shin, Sally A.; Diefenbach, Thomas J.; Slein, Matthew D.; Karpinski, Wiktor; Irvine, Edward B.; Broge, Thomas; Suscovich, Todd J.; Alter, Galit
    A versatile high-throughput assay to characterize antibody-mediated neutrophil phagocytosis
    In: Journal of Immunological Methods Vol. 471 (2019) pp. 46 - 56
  • 2018

  • Yu, Wen-Han; Zhao, Peng; Draghi, Monia; Arevalo, Claudia; Karsten, Christina B.; Suscovich, Todd J; Gunn, Bronwyn; Streeck, Hendrik; Brass, Abraham L; Tiemeyer, Michael; Seaman, Michael; Mascola, John R; Wells, Lance; Lauffenburger, Douglas A; Alter, Galit
    Exploiting glycan topography for computational design of Env glycoprotein antigenicity
    In: PLoS Computational Biology Vol. 14 (2018) Nr. 4, pp. e1006093
  • 2017

  • Karsten, Christina B.; Alter, Galit
    The HIV-1 Glycan Shield : Strategically Placed Kinks in the Armor Improve Antigen Design
    In: Cell Reports Vol. 19 (2017) Nr. 4, pp. 669 - 670
  • 2015

  • Karsten, Christina B.; Buettner, Falk F.R.; Cajic, Samanta; Nehlmeier, Inga; Neumann, Berit; Klippert, Antonina; Sauermann, Ulrike; Reichl, Udo; Gerardy-Schahn, Rita; Rapp, Erdmann; Stahl-Hennig, Christiane; Pöhlmann, Stefan
    Exclusive decoration of simian immunodeficiency virus env with high-mannose type N-glycans is not compatible with mucosal transmission in rhesus macaques
    In: Journal of Virology Vol. 89 (2015) Nr. 22, pp. 11727 - 11733
  • Gierer, Stefanie; Müller, Marcel A.; Heurich, Adeline; Ritz, Daniel; Springstein, Benjamin L.; Karsten, Christina B.; Schendzielorz, Alexander; Gnirß, Kerstin; Drosten, Christian; Pöhlmann, Stefan
    Inhibition of proprotein convertases abrogates processing of the middle eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike protein in infected cells but does not reduce viral infectivity
    In: Journal of Infectious Diseases Vol. 211 (2015) Nr. 6, pp. 889 - 897
  • Wrensch, Florian; Karsten, Christina B.; Gnirß, Kerstin; Hoffmann, Markus; Lu, Kai; Takada, Ayato; Winkler, Michael; Simmons, Graham; Pöhlmann, Stefan
    Interferon-Induced Transmembrane Protein-Mediated Inhibition of Host Cell Entry of Ebolaviruses
    In: Journal of Infectious Diseases Vol. 212 (2015) Nr. Suppl. 2, pp. S210 - S218
  • Dahlmann, Franziska; Biedenkopf, Nadine; Babler, Anne; Jahnen-Dechent, Willi; Karsten, Christina B.; Gnirß, Kerstin; Schneider, Heike; Wrensch, Florian; O'Callaghan, Christopher A.; Bertram, Stephanie; Herrler, Georg; Becker, Stephan; Pöhlmann, Stefan; Hofmann-Winkler, Heike
    Analysis of Ebola Virus Entry into Macrophages
    In: Journal of Infectious Diseases Vol. 212 (2015) Nr. Suppl. 2, pp. S247 - S257
  • 2014

  • Karsten, Christina B.; Pöhlmann, Stefan
    In: Encyclopedia of AIDS / Hope, Thomas J.; Richman, Douglas; Stevenson, Mario (Eds.) 2014, pp. 1 - 10
  • 2013

  • Santag, Susann; Jäger, Wibke; Karsten, Christina B.; Kati, Semra; Pietrek, Marcel; Steinemann, Doris; Sarek, Grzegorz; Ojala, Päivi M.; Schulz, Thomas F.
    Recruitment of the tumour suppressor protein p73 by Kaposi's Sarcoma Herpesvirus latent nuclear antigen contributes to the survival of primary effusion lymphoma cells
    In: Oncogene Vol. 32 (2013) Nr. 32, pp. 3676 - 3685
  • 2012

  • Kiene, Miriam; Marzi, Andrea; Urbanczyk, Andreas; Bertram, Stephanie; Fisch, Tanja; Nehlmeier, Inga; Gnirß, Kerstin; Karsten, Christina B.; Palesch, David; Münch, Jan; Chiodi, Francesca; Pöhlmann, Stefan; Steffen, Imke
    The role of the alternative coreceptor GPR15 in SIV tropism for human cells
    In: Virology Vol. 433 (2012) Nr. 1, pp. 73 - 84
  • Stolze, Yvonne; Eikmeyer, Felix; Wibberg, Daniel; Brandis, Gerrit; Karsten, Christina B.; Krahn, Irene; Schneiker-Bekel, Susanne; Viehöver, Prisca; Barsch, Aiko; Keck, Matthias; Top, Eva M.; Niehaus, Karsten; Schlüter, Andreas
    IncP-1 β plasmids of Comamonas sp. and Delftia sp. strains isolated from a wastewater treatment plant mediate resistance to and decolorization of the triphenylmethane dye crystal violet
    In: Microbiology (Reading, England) Vol. 158 (2012) Nr. 8, pp. 2060 - 2072
  • Gnirß, Kerstin; Kühl, Annika; Karsten, Christina B.; Glowacka, Ilona; Bertram, Stephanie; Kaup, Franziska; Hofmann, Heike; Pöhlmann, Stefan
    Cathepsins B and L activate Ebola but not Marburg virus glycoproteins for efficient entry into cell lines and macrophages independent of TMPRSS2 expression
    In: Virology Vol. 424 (2012) Nr. 1, pp. 3 - 10
  • Winkler, Michael; Bertram, Stephanie; Gnirß, Kerstin; Nehlmeier, Inga; Gawanbacht, Ali; Kirchhoff, Frank; Ehrhardt, Christina; Ludwig, Stephan; Kiene, Miriam; Moldenhauer, Anna-Sophie; Goedecke, Ulrike; Karsten, Christina B.; Kühl, Annika; Pöhlmann, Stefan
    Influenza a virus does not encode a tetherin antagonist with Vpu-like activity and induces IFN-dependent tetherin expression in infected cells
    In: PLoS ONE Vol. 7 (2012) Nr. 8, pp. e43337