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alpha-factor, one of two peptide hormones responsible for synchronized mating between MATa and MAT alpha-cell types in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, binds to its cell surface receptor and is internalized in a time-, temperature-, and energy-dependent manner (Chvatchko, Y., I. Howald, and H. Riezman. 1986. Cell. 46:355-364). After internalization, alpha-factor is delivered to the vacuole via vesicular intermediates and degraded there consistent with an endocytic mechanism (Singer, B., and H. Riezman. 1990. J. Cell Biol. 110:1911-1922; Chvatchko, Y., I. Howald, and H. Riezman. 1986. Cell. 46:355-364). We have isolated two mutants that are defective in the internalization process. Both mutations confer a recessive, temperature-sensitive growth phenotype upon cells that cosegregates with their endocytosis defect. Lucifer yellow, a marker for fluid-phase endocytosis, shows accumulation characteristics in the mutants that are similar to the uptake characteristics of 35S-alpha-factor. The endocytic defect in end4 cells appears immediately upon shift to restrictive temperature and is reversible at permissive temperature if new protein synthesis is allowed. Furthermore, the end4 mutation only affects alpha-factor internalization and not the later delivery of alpha-factor to the vacuole. Other vesicle-mediated processes seem to be normal in end3 and end4 mutants. END3 and END4 are the first genes shown to be necessary for the internalization step of receptor-borne and fluid-phase markers in yeast.