Analyses of Brucella pathogenesis, host immunity, and vaccine targets using systems biology and bioinformatics

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2012 Feb 1;2:2. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2012.00002. eCollection 2012.


Brucella is a Gram-negative, facultative intracellular bacterium that causes zoonotic brucellosis in humans and various animals. Out of 10 classified Brucella species, B. melitensis, B. abortus, B. suis, and B. canis are pathogenic to humans. In the past decade, the mechanisms of Brucella pathogenesis and host immunity have been extensively investigated using the cutting edge systems biology and bioinformatics approaches. This article provides a comprehensive review of the applications of Omics (including genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics) and bioinformatics technologies for the analysis of Brucella pathogenesis, host immune responses, and vaccine targets. Based on more than 30 sequenced Brucella genomes, comparative genomics is able to identify gene variations among Brucella strains that help to explain host specificity and virulence differences among Brucella species. Diverse transcriptomics and proteomics gene expression studies have been conducted to analyze gene expression profiles of wild type Brucella strains and mutants under different laboratory conditions. High throughput Omics analyses of host responses to infections with virulent or attenuated Brucella strains have been focused on responses by mouse and cattle macrophages, bovine trophoblastic cells, mouse and boar splenocytes, and ram buffy coat. Differential serum responses in humans and rams to Brucella infections have been analyzed using high throughput serum antibody screening technology. The Vaxign reverse vaccinology has been used to predict many Brucella vaccine targets. More than 180 Brucella virulence factors and their gene interaction networks have been identified using advanced literature mining methods. The recent development of community-based Vaccine Ontology and Brucellosis Ontology provides an efficient way for Brucella data integration, exchange, and computer-assisted automated reasoning.

Keywords: Brucella; bioinformatics; host immunity; pathogenesis; systems biology; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Brucella / immunology*
  • Brucella / pathogenicity*
  • Brucella Vaccine / immunology*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Genomics / methods
  • Humans
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Systems Biology / methods*
  • Transcriptome
  • Virulence Factors / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / immunology


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Brucella Vaccine
  • Virulence Factors