Kim J. Hasenkrug, Ph.D.

Retroviral Immunology Section

Kim J. Hasenkrug, Ph.D.

Chief, Retroviral Immunology Section

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Kim J. Hasenkrug, Ph.D.

Major Areas of Research

  • Chronic retroviral infections: immunological control, regulatory T cells, immunomodulation, T cell exhaustion and therapeutics
  • Mechanisms of genetic resistance to retroviral disease

Program Description

Our research is aimed at understanding host responses to retroviral infections. We use mice infected with Friend murine leukemia virus as a model to study basic immunology. A special interest is in chronic infections, including how chronic infections are established and maintained and developing strategies to prevent and treat them. Using this model, we discovered that viruses can subvert the suppressive nature of regulatory T cells to evade immunological destruction by CD8+ T cells. We also use “humanized” mice that contain human immune systems, as a model to study immune responses to HIV infection and to help us determine basic mechanisms of protection against acute and chronic retroviral infections. We are currently using this model to study possible cures for latent HIV infections and to develop new therapeutics.


CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cell

Scanning electron micrograph of a CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cell isolated from a mouse spleen. Cells such as these protect from autoimmune diseases, but they can also suppress virus-specific immunity and thereby lead to chronic infections.



Ph.D., 1991, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Hasenkrug received his Ph.D. in cell biology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1991 and conducted his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce Chesebro at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories. In 1998, he established an independent laboratory to study retroviral immunology and mechanisms of vaccine protection. A special focus of his work has been the study of establishment and maintenance of chronic infections and virus escape with a focus on regulatory T cells and T cell exhaustion. Dr. Hasenkrug serves as an affiliated associate professor at Montana State University and the University of Montana. In 2016 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Selected Publications

Myers LM, Tal MC, Torrez Dulgeroff LB, Carmody AB, Messer RJ, Gulati G, Yiu YY, Staron MM, Angel CL, Sinha R, Markovic M, Pham EA, Fram B, Ahmed A, Newman AM, Glenn JS, Davis MM, Kaech SM, Weissman IL, Hasenkrug KJ. 2019. A functional subset of CD8(+) T cells during chronic exhaustion is defined by SIRPalpha expression. Nat Commun 10:794.

Moore TC, Messer RJ, Gonzaga LM, Mather JM, Carmody AB, Bayer W, Littwitz-Salomon E, Dittmer U, Hasenkrug KJ. 2019. Effects of Friend Virus Infection and Regulatory T Cells on the Antigen Presentation Function of B Cells. MBio 10.

Lavender KJ, Pace C, Sutter K, Messer RJ, Pouncey DL, Cummins NW, Natesampillai S, Zheng J, Goldsmith J, Widera M, Van Dis ES, Phillips K, Race B, Dittmer U, Kukolj G, Hasenkrug KJ. 2018. An advanced BLT-humanized mouse model for extended HIV-1 cure studies. AIDS 32:1-10.

Hasenkrug KJ, Chougnet CA, Dittmer U. 2018. Regulatory T cells in retroviral infections. PLoS Pathog 14:e1006776.

Moore TC, Gonzaga LM, Mather JM, Messer RJ, Hasenkrug KJ. 2017. B Cell Requirement for Robust Regulatory T Cell Responses to Friend Retrovirus Infection. MBio 8.

Lavender KJ, Gibbert K, Peterson KE, Van Dis E, Francois S, Woods T, Messer RJ, Gawanbacht A, Muller JA, Munch J, Phillips K, Race B, Harper MS, Guo K, Lee EJ, Trilling M, Hengel H, Piehler J, Verheyen J, Wilson CC, Santiago ML, Hasenkrug KJ, Dittmer U. 2016. Interferon Alpha Subtype-Specific Suppression of HIV-1 Infection In Vivo. J Virol 90:6001-13.

Visit PubMed for a complete publication listing.

Research Group

Current members of the Retroviral Immunology Section:

Dr. Lara Myers
Dr. Deepashri
Rao Mr. Ronald Messer

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