The USIEG (University of Siegen) is a young, modern institute of higher education located centrally in the area bordering the three German federal states of Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatine. The Faculty V, School of Life Sciences, is the newest addition to the university portfolio and has strong ties to the University of Bonn Medical Faculty and the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam to provide training to students at the interface of medicine and (bio)technology and shaping the next generation of biomedical researchers. The professorship in Biochemistry is furthermore associated to several institutions in Hamburg, Northern Germany, especially the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI) and the Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB), which provides access to virology and structural biology labs.

The Biochemistry of USIEG has access to several state-of-the-art Technology Platforms at HPI, including systemic cryo- and environmental electron microscopes (EM), fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis, Next Generation Sequencing and BSL3 laboratories, and is hosted in the Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) in Hamburg with access to additional high quality core facilities. The Biochemistry group of Charlotte Uetrecht focuses on studying the structure of viral protein complexes using primarily mass spectrometry (MS) based approaches, especially native and HDX MS. The group is known for its expertise in performing native MS on intact viral particles with a research focus on noroviruses, the major cause of viral gastroenteritis. Besides noroviruses, the group studies the intracellular protein complexes of coronaviruses with a well-perceived publication in 2020 in Biochemical Journal. Furthermore, the group develops new techniques to analyze large structures with native MS, such as new fragmentation techniques based on soft X-rays and single particle imaging at X-ray free-electron lasers.

In addition, Charlotte Uetrecht is coordinating the FET OPEN project 801406 – MS SPIDOC, holds an ERC StG-2017 759661 – SPOCk’S MS and is involved in the FET PROACTIVE 731868 – Viruscan. All projects have passed interim reviews and were received extremely well by reviewers.

Role in Ariadne VIBE

USIEG provides viral particles for component and platform testing as well as general advice on handling and requirements for virus detection in WP1,2 and 3.

WP4: USIEG will perform top-down MS on enveloped and non-enveloped virus particles using an available Orbitrap UHMR enhanced by omnitrap technology. Based on previous experience on dissociation of proteins from viral particles, these will be fragmented further to allow sequencing in a top-down fashion, which shall later on be used in the ARIADNE platform to safely detect and identify viruses from breath.

WP5: Within a rapid response program, the group currently develops proteomics workflows to detect viral particles for future use in patient sample testing. These will be extended here towards few to single particle workflows optimizing the detection limit.