3 years ago

From neglected to dissected: How technological advances are leading the way to the study of Coxiella burnetii pathogenesis

From neglected to dissected: How technological advances are leading the way to the study of Coxiella burnetii pathogenesis
Melanie Burette, Matteo Bonazzi

Coxiella burnetii is an obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen responsible for severe worldwide outbreaks of the zoonosis Q fever. The remarkable resistance to environmental stress, extremely low infectious dose and ease of dissemination, contributed to the classification of C. burnetii as a class B biothreat. Unique among intracellular pathogens, C. burnetii escapes immune surveillance and replicates within large autophagolysosome‐like compartments called Coxiella‐containing vacuoles (CCVs). The biogenesis of these compartments depends on the subversion of several host signalling pathways. For years, the obligate intracellular nature of C. burnetii imposed significant experimental obstacles to the study of its pathogenic traits. With the development of an axenic culture medium in 2009, C. burnetii became genetically tractable, thus allowing the implementation of mutagenesis tools and screening approaches to identify its virulence determinants and investigate its complex interaction with host cells. Here, we review the key advances that have contributed to our knowledge of C. burnetii pathogenesis, leading to the rise of this once‐neglected pathogen to an exceptional organism to study the intravacuolar lifestyle.

Open access
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