Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Bacteriol. 2011 Apr;193(7):1493-503. doi: 10.1128/JB.01359-10. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

The Coxiella burnetii cryptic plasmid is enriched in genes encoding type IV secretion system substrates.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 W. Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


The intracellular bacterial pathogen Coxiella burnetii directs biogenesis of a phagolysosome-like parasitophorous vacuole (PV), in which it replicates. The organism encodes a Dot/Icm type IV secretion system (T4SS) predicted to deliver to the host cytosol effector proteins that mediate PV formation and other cellular events. All C. burnetii isolates carry a large, autonomously replicating plasmid or have chromosomally integrated plasmid-like sequences (IPS), suggesting that plasmid and IPS genes are critical for infection. Bioinformatic analyses revealed two candidate Dot/Icm substrates with eukaryotic-like motifs uniquely encoded by the QpH1 plasmid from the Nine Mile reference isolate. CpeC, containing an F-box domain, and CpeD, possessing kinesin-related and coiled-coil regions, were secreted by the closely related Legionella pneumophila Dot/Icm T4SS. An additional QpH1-specific gene, cpeE, situated in a predicted operon with cpeD, also encoded a secreted effector. Further screening revealed that three hypothetical proteins (CpeA, CpeB, and CpeF) encoded by all C. burnetii plasmids and IPS are Dot/Icm substrates. By use of new genetic tools, secretion of plasmid effectors by C. burnetii during host cell infection was confirmed using β-lactamase and adenylate cyclase translocation assays, and a C-terminal secretion signal was identified. When ectopically expressed in HeLa cells, plasmid effectors trafficked to different subcellular sites, including autophagosomes (CpeB), ubiquitin-rich compartments (CpeC), and the endoplasmic reticulum (CpeD). Collectively, these results suggest that C. burnetii plasmid-encoded T4SS substrates play important roles in subversion of host cell functions, providing a plausible explanation for the absolute maintenance of plasmid genes by this pathogen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center