Benzimidazole anti-microtubule drugs, such as benomyl, induce paralysis and slow the growth of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We have identified 28 mutations in C. elegans that confer resistance to benzimidazoles. All resistant mutations map to a single locus, ben-1. Virtually all these mutations are genetically dominant. Molecular cloning and DNA sequence analysis established that ben-1 encodes a beta-tubulin. Some resistant mutants are completely deleted for the ben-1 gene. Since the deletion strains appear to be fully resistant to the drugs, the ben-1 product appears to be the only benzimidazole-sensitive beta-tubulin in C. elegans. Furthermore, since animals lacking ben-1 are viable and coordinated, the ben-1 beta-tubulin appears to be nonessential for growth and movement. The ben-1 function is likely to be redundant in the nematode genome.

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