Virology research group

Mari Kaarbø
Group leader

The Virology Research group consists of clinicians and scientists that are interested in the molecular and clinical aspects of chronic virus infections.  We use human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) and human cytomegalovirus (CMV) as model systems and our main focus is how these viruses affect their host cells with regard to latency, genome stability and their interaction with the immune system.


HIV is a lentivirus which results in a chronic infection and is the causative agent of AIDS. The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has led to a drastic improvement for the prognosis of HIV infection but several challenges remain. HIV has big genetic variation and high risk for development of resistance to antiviral drugs. In addition, there is a low level of continuous virus replication and persistent immune activation. Despite effective treatment, the virus persists in different reservoirs, which are unreachable for both the immune system and the drugs used for treatment.

CMV is a widely spread β-herpesvirus, that establishes life-long latency after primary infection. In Norway about 50% of the population is infected by the age of 20 and the prevalence increases with age. In healthy individuals, primary infection is usually subclinical. In contrast, primary infection or reactivation of CMV in immunosuppressed patients may cause severe disease, eventually with fatal outcome. In addition, infection with CMV is a big threat for pregnant women as primary infection of the developing foetus can cause severe brain damage. We study the pathogenesis and immune responses of chronic virus infections caused by HIV or CMV infections in order to better understand virus host cell interactions. This may reveal mechanisms of importance for improved treatment strategies and principles.


Research projects

  • Regulation of latency and reactivation in HIV infection: effects on cellular viral reservoirs
  • The role of host cell DNA glycosylases in HIV replication
  • Studies of HIV anti-retroviral resistance using next generation sequencing
  • Viral and host factors regulating CMV latency and reactivation
  • DNA repair and chromatin remodeling in CMV infection
  • Role of APOBEC deaminases in CMV infection
  • Anti-CMV T -cell immunity and outcome in solid organ transplant patients

Contact information
Group Leader Mari Kaarbø, Department of Microbiology, Tel: +4723071141