A vesicular intermediate in protein transport from the endoplasmic reticulum is detected in a subset of temperature-sensitive mutants blocked early in the yeast secretory pathway. By electron microscopy three of the mutants, sec18, sec17, and sec22, accumulate 50 nm vesicles at the nonpermissive temperature. Vesicle accumulation is blocked by the mutations sec12, sec13, sec16, and sec23 as shown by analysis of double-mutant strains. Thus the early SEC genes can be divided into vesicle forming and vesicle fusion functions. Synthetic lethal interactions between sec mutations define two groups of SEC genes, corresponding to the groups involved in vesicle formation or fusion. Mutations in two of the genes involved in vesicle fusion, SEC17 and SEC18, are lethal in combination, and five of six possible pairwise combinations of mutations in genes required for vesicle formation, SEC12, SEC13, SEC16, and SEC23, are lethal. These interactions suggest cooperation between different SEC gene products in vesicle budding and vesicle fusion processes.
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