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The Saccharomyces cerevisiae adhesion protein alpha-agglutinin (Ag alpha 1p) is expressed by alpha cells and binds to the complementary a-agglutinin expressed by a cells. The N-terminal half of alpha-agglutinin is sufficient for ligand binding and has been proposed to contain an immunoglobulin (Ig) fold domain. Based on a structural homology model for this domain and a previously identified critical residue (His292), we made Ag alpha 1p mutations in three discontinuous patches of the domain that are predicted to be in close proximity to His292 in the model. Residues in each of the three patches were identified that are important for activity and therefore define a putative ligand binding site, whereas mutations in distant loops had no effect on activity. This putative binding site is on a different surface of the Ig fold than the defined binding sites of immunoglobulins and other members of the Ig superfamily. Comparison of protein interaction sites by structural and mutational analysis has indicated that the area of surface contact is larger than the functional binding site identified by mutagenesis. The putative alpha-agglutinin binding site is therefore likely to identify residues that contribute to the functional binding site within a larger area that contacts a-agglutinin.