Coxiella burnetii: Turning hostility into a home

Jennifer H. Moffatt, Patrice Newton, Hayley J. Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of the human disease Q fever, is a unique intracellular bacterial pathogen. Coxiella replicates to high numbers within a pathogen-derived lysosome-like vacuole, thriving within a low pH, highly proteolytic and oxidative environment. In 2009, researchers developed means to axenically culture Coxiella paving the way for the development of tools to genetically manipulate the organism. These advances have revolutionized our capacity to examine the pathogenesis of Coxiella. In recent years, targeted and random mutant strains have been used to demonstrate that the Dot/Icm type IV secretion system is essential for intracellular replication of Coxiella. Current research is focused towards understanding the unique cohort of over 130 effector proteins that are translocated into the host cell. Mutagenesis screens have been employed to identify effectors that play important roles for the biogenesis of the Coxiella-containing vacuole and intracellular replication of Coxiella. A surprisingly high number of effector mutants demonstrate significant intracellular growth defects, and future studies on the molecular function of these effectors will provide great insight into the pathogenesis of Coxiella. Already, this expanse of new data implicates many eukaryotic processes that are targeted by the arsenal of Coxiella effectors including autophagy, apoptosis and vesicular trafficking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-631
Number of pages11
JournalCellular Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

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