Molecular pathogenesis of the obligate intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2013 Aug;11(8):561-73. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3049. Epub 2013 Jun 24.


The agent of Q fever, Coxiella burnetii, is an obligate intracellular bacterium that causes acute and chronic infections. The study of C. burnetii pathogenesis has benefited from two recent fundamental advances: improved genetic tools and the ability to grow the bacterium in extracellular media. In this Review, we describe how these recent advances have improved our understanding of C. burnetii invasion and host cell modulation, including the formation of replication-permissive Coxiella-containing vacuoles. Furthermore, we describe the Dot/Icm (defect in organelle trafficking/intracellular multiplication) system, which is used by C. burnetii to secrete a range of effector proteins into the host cell, and we discuss the role of these effectors in remodelling the host cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Coxiella burnetii / genetics
  • Coxiella burnetii / pathogenicity*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Integrin alphaVbeta3 / genetics
  • Integrin alphaVbeta3 / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / microbiology
  • Phagocytosis
  • Phagosomes / metabolism
  • Phagosomes / microbiology
  • Q Fever / microbiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Vacuoles / microbiology


  • Integrin alphaVbeta3