Saccharomyces cerevisiae with mutations at the sec7 locus are pleiotropically deficient in protein transport within the Golgi apparatus and proliferate a large array of Golgi cisternae at a restrictive growth temperature (37 degrees C). The SEC7 gene and its product (Sec7p) have been evaluated by molecular cloning and sequence analysis. Two genes that allow sec7 mutant cells to grow at 37 degrees C are represented in wild-type yeast DNA libraries. A single copy of the authentic SEC7 gene permits growth of mutant cells, whereas the other gene suppresses growth deficiency only when expressed from a multicopy plasmid. The SEC7 gene is contained on a 8.4-kilobase pair SphI restriction fragment, portions of which hybridize to a single 6-kilobase pair mRNA. The gene is essential for yeast vegetative growth. DNA sequence analysis of this region detects a single open reading frame with the potential to encode a 2008-amino acid-long hydrophilic protein of 230 kDa. Putative Sec7p contains an unusual, highly charged acidic domain of 125 amino acids with 29% glutamate, 18% aspartate, and 21% serine. Within this region, stretches of 14 consecutive glutamate residues and 13 consecutive glutamates/aspartates are predicted. This domain in Sec7p may serve a structural role to interact with lipids or proteins on the cytoplasmic surface of the Golgi apparatus.