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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Potential serodiagnostic markers for Q fever identified in Coxiella burnetii by immunoproteomic and protein microarray approaches

Xiaolu Xiong1, Xile Wang1, Bohai Wen1*, Stephen Graves2 and John Stenos2

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Pathogen and Biosecurity, Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, Dong-dia-jie, Beijing 100071, China

2 Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, Barwon Health, Geelong Hospital, Geelong, Victoria 3220, Australia

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:35  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-35

Published: 16 March 2012



Coxiella burnetii is the etiological agent of Q fever. The clinical diagnosis of Q fever is mainly based on several serological tests. These tests all need Coxiella organisms which are difficult and hazardous to culture and purify.


An immunoproteomic study of C. burnetii Xinqiao strain isolated in China was conducted with the sera from experimentally infected BALB/c mice and Q fever patients. Twenty of whole proteins of Xinqiao recognized by the infection sera were identified by mass spectrometry. Nineteen of the 20 proteins were successfully expressed in Escherichia coli and used to fabricate a microarray which was probed with Q fever patient sera. As a result, GroEL, YbgF, RplL, Mip, OmpH, Com1, and Dnak were recognized as major seroreactive antigens. The major seroreactive proteins were fabricated in a small microarray and further analyzed with the sera of patients with rickettsial spotted fever, Legionella pneumonia or streptococcal pneumonia. In this analysis, these proteins showed fewer cross-reactions with the tested sera.


Our results demonstrate that these 7 Coxiella proteins gave a modest sensitivity and specificity for recognizing of Q fever patient sera, suggesting that they are potential serodiagnostic markers for Q fever.