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The ROX3 gene was identified during a hunt for mutants with increased expression of the heme-regulated CYC7 gene, which encodes the minor species of cytochrome c in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The rox3 mutants caused a 10-fold increase in CYC7 expression both in the presence and absence of heme, had slightly increased anaerobic expression of the heme-activated CYC1 gene, and caused decreases in the anaerobic expression of the heme-repressed ANB1 gene and the aerobic expression of its heme-induced homolog. The wild-type ROX3 gene was cloned, and the sequence indicated that it encodes a 220-amino-acid protein. This protein is essential; deletion of the coding sequence was lethal. The coding sequence for beta-galactosidase was fused to the 3' end of the ROX3 coding sequence, and the fusion product was found to be localized in the nucleus, strongly suggesting that the wild-type protein carries out a nuclear function. Mutations in the rox3 gene showed an interesting pattern of intragenic complementation. A deletion of the 5' coding region complemented a nonsense mutation at codon 128 but could not prevent the lethality of the null mutation. These results suggest that the amino-terminal domain is required for an essential function, while the carboxy-terminal domain can be supplied in trans to achieve the wild-type expression of CYC7. Finally, RNA blots demonstrated that the ROX3 mRNA was expressed at higher levels anaerobically but was not subject to heme repression. The nuclear localization and the lack of viability of null mutants suggest that the ROX3 protein is a general regulatory factor.