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The Saccharomyces cerevisiae CDC42 gene product is involved in the morphogenetic events of the cell division cycle; temperature-sensitive cdc42 mutants are unable to form buds and display delocalized cell- surface deposition at the restrictive temperature (Adams, A. E. M., D. I. Johnson, R. M. Longnecker, B. F. Sloat, and J. R. Pringle. 1990. J. Cell Biol. 111:131-142). To begin a molecular analysis of CDC42 function, we have isolated the CDC42 gene from a yeast genomic DNA library. The use of the cloned DNA to create a deletion of CDC42 confirmed that the gene is essential. Overexpression of CDC42 under control of the GAL10 promoter was not grossly deleterious to cell growth but did perturb the normal pattern of selection of budding sites. Determination of the DNA and predicted amino acid sequences of CDC42 revealed a high degree of similarity in amino acid sequence to the ras and rho (Madaule, P., R. Axel, and A. M. Myers. 1987. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 84:779-783) families of gene products. The similarities to ras proteins (approximately 40% identical or related amino acids overall) were most pronounced in the regions that have been implicated in GTP binding and hydrolysis and in the COOH-terminal modifications leading to membrane association, suggesting that CDC42 function also involves these biochemical properties. The similarities to the rho proteins (approximately 60% identical or related amino acids overall) were more widely distributed through the coding region, suggesting more extensive similarities in as yet undefined biochemical properties and functions.