We describe a murine cDNA, designated Early T lymphocyte activation 1 (ETA-1) which is abundantly expressed after activation of T cells. Eta-1 encodes a highly acidic secreted product having structural features of proteins that bind to cellular adhesion receptors. The Eta-1 gene maps to a locus on murine chromosome 5 termed Ric that confers resistance to infection by Rickettsia tsutsugamushi (RT), an obligate intracellular bacterium that is the etiological agent for human scrub typhus. With one exception, inbred mouse strains that expressed the Eta-1a allele were resistant to RT infection (RicR), and inbred strains expressing the Eta-1b allele were susceptible (RicS). These findings suggest that Eta-1 is the gene inferred from previous studies of the Ric locus (5). Genetic resistance to RT infection is associated with a strong Eta-1 response in vivo and inhibition of early bacterial replication. Eta-1 gene expression appears to be part of a surprisingly rapid T cell-dependent response to bacterial infection that may precede classical forms of T cell-dependent immunity.

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