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Curr Biol. 2001 Oct 2;11(19):1503-11.

Kif1C, a kinesin-like motor protein, mediates mouse macrophage resistance to anthrax lethal factor.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Inbred mouse strains exhibit striking differences in the susceptibility of their macrophages to the effects of anthrax lethal toxin (LeTx). Previous data has shown that this difference in susceptibility lies downstream of toxin entry into macrophages. A locus controlling this phenotype, called Ltxs1, has been mapped to chromosome 11, but the responsible gene has not been identified.


Here, we report the identification of the Ltxs1 gene as Kif1C, which encodes a kinesin-like motor protein of the UNC104 subfamily. Kif1C is the only gene in the Ltxs1 interval exhibiting polymorphisms between susceptible and resistant strains. Multiple alleles of Kif1C determine the susceptibility or resistance of cultured mouse macrophages to LeTx. Treatment of resistant macrophages with brefeldin-A (which alters the cellular localization of Kif1C) induces susceptibility to LeTx, while ectopic expression of a resistance allele of Kif1C in susceptible macrophages causes a 4-fold increase in the number of cells surviving LeTx treatment. We also show that cleavage of map kinase kinase 3, a target of LeTx proteolysis, occurs in resistant cells.


We conclude that mutations in Kif1C are responsible for the differences in the susceptibility of inbred mouse macrophages to LeTx and that proper Kif1C function is required for LeTx resistance. Since the LeTx-mediated proteolysis of map kinase kinase 3 occurs even in resistant cells, Kif1C does not affect cellular entry or processing of LeTx and likely influences events occurring later in the intoxication pathway.

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