Genetics of Coxiella burnetii: On the path of specialization

Michael F. Minnick, Rahul Raghavan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Coxiella burnetii is an extremely infectious, zoonotic agent that causes Q fever in humans. With the exception of New Zealand, the bacterium is distributed worldwide. Coxiella is classified as a select agent based on its past and potential use as a bioweapon and its threat to public health. Despite decades of research, we know relatively little regarding Coxiella's molecular pathogenesis, and a vaccine is not widely available. This article briefly reviews the unusual genetics of C. burnetii; a pathogen that retains telltale genetic mementos collected over the course of its evolutionary path from a free-living bacterium to an obligate intracellular parasite of eukaryotic host cell phagosomes. Understanding why these genetic elements are maintained may help us better understand the biology of this fascinating pathogen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1314
Number of pages18
JournalFuture Microbiology
Volume6
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Keywords

  • Chromosome
  • Coxiella
  • Genome reduction
  • Genomics
  • Genotype
  • Plasmids
  • Q fever
  • Selfish genetic elements

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