Beginning to understand the role of the Type IV secretion system effector proteins in Coxiella burnetii pathogenesis

Anja Lührmann, Hayley J. Newton, Matteo Bonazzi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Coxiella burnetii is the etiological agent of the zoonotic disease Q fever, which manifests in severe outbreaks and is associated with important health and economic burden. Moreover, C. burnetii belongs to the list of class B bioterrorism organisms, as it is an airborne and highly infective pathogen with remarkable resistance to environmental stresses. Detailed study of the host–pathogen interaction during C. burnetii infection has been hampered due to the obligate intracellular nature of this pathogen. However, the development of an axenic culture medium, together with the implementation of bioinformatics tools and high-content screening approaches, have significantly progressed C. burnetii research in the last decade. This has facilitated identification of the Dot/Icm type IV secretion system (T4SS) as an essential virulence factor. T4SS is used to deliver an arsenal of effector proteins into the cytoplasm of the host cell. These effectors mediate the survival of the host cell and the development of very large replicative compartments called Coxiella-containing vacuoles (CCVs). Biogenesis of the CCV relies on T4SS-dependent re-routing of numerous intracellular trafficking pathways to deliver membranes and nutrients that are essential for bacterial replication. This review aims to illustrate the key milestones that have contributed to ascribe C. burnetii as a model organism for the study of host/pathogen interactions as well as presenting an up-to-date description of our knowledge of the cell biology of C. burnetii infections.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationType IV Secretion in Gram-Negative and Gram-Positive Bacteria
EditorsSteffen Backert, Elisabeth Grohmann
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9783319752419
ISBN (Print)9783319752402
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCurrent Topics in Microbiology and Immunology
ISSN (Print)0070-217X
ISSN (Electronic)2196-9965


  • Autophagy
  • Cell death
  • Coxiella burnetii
  • In vivo models
  • Phagosome maturation
  • System biology

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